History - No Greater Tragedy -
February 13, 1983
"No greater tragedy"... . these were the words used by Former Attorney
General William French Smith in responding to the deaths in North
Dakota of United States Marshal Kenneth H. Muir and Deputy U.S.
Marshal Robert S. Cheshire, Jr.- gunned down February 13, 1983 while
attempting to make an arrest.
At a memorial service at the department of Justice's Great Hall, March
14, 1983, the Attorney General stated:
"In a nation governed
by law, there is no greater tragedy
than the loss of those killed while trying to
enforce and defend that law. We all owe
a great debt, which we can honor, but
never fully repay, to those brave men
who died trying to enforce our law and
On behalf of all of their colleagues
throughout the Department of
Justice, the Attorney General extended
deepest sympathy to the bereaved families
of Marshal Muir and Deputy U.S.
Marshal Cheshire, as well as prayers for
the speedy recovery of Deputy U.S.
Marshal James H. Hopson, Jr. who was
critically wounded in the same tragic incident.
Simultaneously, President Ronald
Reagan personally expressed his deep
condolences to Mrs. Muir and Mrs.
Cheshire, and his sincere wish to Mrs.
Hopson for the recovery of her husband.
Deputy Hopson was subsequently
removed from the critical list.
This tragic event, which will live in infamy
in the history of the Marshals Service,
took place along a quiet country
road outside Medina, North Dakota. As
the late Sunday afternoon sun began to
set, Marshal Muir, along with Deputy
U.S. Marshals Cheshire, Hopson, and
Carl Wigglesworth, and local law enforcement
personnel, established a
roadblock and prepared to serve a warrant
on Gordon Kahl, 63, for violating
his probation on a tax evasion conviction.
As Gordon Kahl and a group of others were leaving a meeting in Medina (Pop. and departing in their cars,
battle erupted which resulted - within a
few moments' time- in the killing of
Marshal Muir and Deputy Cheshire and
the wounding of Deputy Hopson and
two other local law enforcement officials.
Kahl's 23-year-old son, Yorivon, received
stomach wounds in the exchange of gunfire.
When the smoke cleared it was
discovered that Gordon Kahl had
escaped on the North Dakota prairie
along with several others; thus, one of the
most intensive manhunts in recent
Midwest history was under way.
At the time, Associate Attorney General Rudolph
W. Giuliani and Assistant Attorney
General D. Lowell Jensen joined U.S.
Marshals Service Director William E.
Hall in heading the official delegation of
U.S. Marshals Service representatives attending
funeral services in North Dakota
for Marshal Muir and Deputy Cheshire.
Marshal Muir was eulogized as:
Marshal who faced danger often but
never dwelled on it; a father who was
sympathetic and understanding; and a
man who acted on his concern for others
less fortunate than he."
Tributes paid 21
years ago to Marshal Muir also surfaced
at his funeral from two unexpected
sources: John F. Kennedy and Robert F.
Kennedy, who were President and U.S.
Attorney General when Muir was a
Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to campus
riots in Mississippi. Muir was injured
by rocks thrown during the riot but
stayed on the scene. The Kennedys wrote
separately to Muir thanking him for his
service. On right,
U.S. Marshal Kenneth B. Muir
"You prevented a serious and
tragic incident from becoming a disaster",
John Kennedy wrote Muir. "Had you failed, our country would have suffered
irreparable damage." Robert Kennedy
told Muir: "You used good judgment in
the face of danger."
Deputy Cheshire, at overflowing
church services in Bismarck, was eulogized
as a loving husband, a devoted father,
and an active participant with his
wife, Lynn, in local church activities. His
deep dedication to the Marshals Service
was noted and he was praised as an extremely
hard working Deputy whose performance
of duty always was "above and
beyond". He was praised for his constant efforts to improve himself
in law enforcement work and his volunteer teaching work at the
North Dakota Law Enforcement Training Center. A Bismarck
Police official referred to him as 'a very
dedicated and professional law enforcement
officer". His dedication to his profession
was recognized as being encouraging
to other local law enforcement
officers. Bob Cheshire was recognized as
being a prime mover in the establishment
of a periodic Law Enforcement Talk Session,
held in the Bismarck area and open
to all law enforcement officers. These sessions
were begun by Cheshire in 1981 to give area law enforcement officers a
chance to interact and share ideas. His receipt of several
letters of commendation for his fine performance of duties with
Marshals Service also were recognized.
Marshal Muir served in the U.S.
Marshals Service since 1959 and is survived
by his wife, Lois Jean, and their
three children: Laurie, Richard, and
Roxanne. Deputy Cheshire joined the
U.S. Marshals Service in 1978. He was
an officer in the North Dakota National
Guard. His survivors include his wife,
Lynn, and their three children: Ryan,
Jeremy, and Kristen.
Shown on left,
Deputy U.S. Marshal
Robert Cheshire, Jr.