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Saying Goodbye to a Local Hero

Posted by titantv on March 21, 2014 at 12:15 AM

By Kayla Gallion 


Friends, loved ones, co workers, and admirers of fallen Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp gathered at McDowell High School on Monday, March 17, to celebrate and remember his life. School was dismissed at noon so the service could be held at 2 p.m. in the gymnasium, and more than 3,000 people were in attendance.

Officer Crisp, a native of Marion, was killed in the line of duty Wednesday, March 12th during a manhunt in Burke County. Crisp served in the U.S Forest Service in the Grandfather Mountain District, and was helping search for murder suspect Troy Whisnant, who was on the run after shooting his parents. Whisnant shot and killed Crisp and his K-9 companion, Maros.

Naturally, Crisp has been honored as a hero. Crisp knew many people from different areas of law enforcement and had several friends from West Court Baptist Church and his community. The U.S Forest Service therefore asked if they could have his memorial service at McDowell High, the only place that could accommodate the amount of people hoping to pay their respects.

Many prominent members of society came to honor Officer Crisp, including law officers from all over the region and Governor Pat McCrory. His casket, draped with an American flag, was escorted in by officers from the U.S. Forest Service, and K-9 Unit marched by in a procession, each handler saluting as they passed.

Several speakers spoke of their happy memories with Crisp. He was described as kind, caring, and even Christ-like. In his time as an officer, he always made sure his friends had their bulletproof vests on, and even saved a woman from deportation. He never missed a day of work unless he had to, but he also always made time for his family, including his wife, Amanda, his two sons, Garrett and Logan, and his dog, Maros. Maros was described as one of the best tracking dogs around, and the two companions stayed together until the end.

Assistant principal Rodney Wheeler described the service as “a very somber and honoring event.” The whole town was prepared to honor Crisp, and many businesses flew their American flags at half mast. A giant flag was raised between cranes on the street near Big Lots, and though the amount of road closures and traffic to the memorial caused several issues for drivers, Wheeler heard “many comments and expressions of gratitude [...] made in reference to how well MHS was represented [and] prepared.”

Tears were shed for an officer and his dog, and even a dog from the K-9 Unit began whimpering and howling at one point during the service. Though perhaps coincidental, it struck a chord with many people there, for it seemed as though it too was grieving for its fallen comrades, both human and canine. Crisp was fittingly honored by the singing of a few of his favorite gospel songs, as well as the presenting of the colors by members of law enforcement and the playing of bagpipes by a member of the U.S Forest Service Honor Guard. Both his wife and sons were presented with flags before the memorial ended. A private burial was held at his church after the event.

Though Crisp and Maros left too soon, the amount of respect they were shown proves that they will not be forgotten. Like many people who admired them, Wheeler believes “the amount of support from within both [Crisp’s] home community and his career community was outstanding.” They will be missed, but they will be remembered as heroes. One speaker at the service summed it up perfectly: “he fought a good fight, he kept the faith, and he finished his course.”

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