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Iraq War

Chris Rutherford[1].jpg

Chris Rutherford

Christopher Neil Rutherford 25, on July 2, 2007 our son 1st. Lt. Christopher Neil Rutherford happily joined our Lord and Savior.
     Born on June 17, 1982, Chris is the son of Gary and Penny Rutherford, and the brother of Brandon Rutherford all of Newport, OH. Chris loved his family and spending time with them.
     An avid NASCAR fan, Chris enjoyed all sports as well as writing about them. A 2000 graduate of Frontier High School, Chris also earned as Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Washington State College and also went on to pursue a degree in Journalism at Marietta College at the same time. He used his degrees as well as his love for sports while a sportswriter for the Marietta Times. Broadcast Journalism captured his attention during stints at WMOA and 93R.
     In February of 2005 Chris joined the United States Army. Moving quickly up through the ranks, Chris was commissioned as a 2nd. LT., in December of 2006, and then as a 1st. LT., in June of 2007. It was during his deployment to Iraq in the service of the United States Army that Chris departed this life.
     He is survived by his loving parents and brother; Grandparents Herman and Eileen Thomas, and Noretta Rutherford; Aunts Barbara (Mark) Mackey, and Dawn Jones; Uncle Perry (Ann) Thomas; Cousins Nick and Michelle Mackey, Jeremy (Stephanie) Armstrong, Josh Armstrong, Shawn and Derek Jones, and Ben and Kelly Goble.
     Chris was preceded in death and will be welcomed in Heaven by ; Grandfather Gary Neil Rutherford, Aunt Debbie Armstrong, and Great Grandparents Forest and Evelyn Haught, Lloyd and Margaret Haesley, Charles and Margaret Berga, and Oscar and Sara Thomas.
     Visitation Wednesday 2-8 PM and Thursday 10-3 PM at Hadley Funeral Home Reno Chapel 1021 Pike St. Services will be held at 5:30 PM Thursday at Frontier High School with Rev. Paul Morton and Pastor Joe Law officiating with Full Military Rites to follow at East Lawn Memorial Park.
     Memorial Contributions made be made in his name to The Peoples Savings Bank, 710 2nd St. New Matamoras, OH. 45767  c/o Trina Jackson

Son of Gary and Penney Thomas Rutherford, he was killed in Iraq on July 2, 2007


Christopher N. Rutherford dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

The second Washington County man to be killed in the war in Iraq is someone friends will remember for his huge smile, big brown eyes and ability to always be positive.

Newport native Chris Rutherford, 25, a 2000 graduate of Frontier High School and 2003 graduate of Marietta College was killed Monday while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Rutherford is the son of Penny and Gary Rutherford, of Newport, and older brother to Brandon Rutherford.

The U.S. Department of Defense has not yet issued an official statement on his death, but Rutherford’s uncle Mark Mackey confirmed it to The Marietta Times Tuesday.

A spokeswoman with the Defense Department’s press office said if information on Rutherford had not been posted to the office’s Web site, it was not available for release.

Rutherford is the second Washington County soldier to die during the war. The first was Marietta resident Allen Nolan, 38, who died Sept. 30, 2004 after being injured on duty.

Rutherford had been back in Washington County visiting friends and family only last month after his first stint in Iraq, with signs all over the community welcoming him home.

“He was just home three weeks ago, and brought stuff from Iraq for everybody,” said Nicholas Mackey, 24, Rutherford’s first cousin.

“He was excited about going back to get it over with,” he said of Rutherford’s return to Iraq last month.

“Until we turned 18 we might just as well have been brothers,” Mackey said. “Growing up as kids we spent a lot of time at my grandparents. And Chris never quit smiling. I think he’s smiling in every picture I’ve seen him in.

“But it seemed like he was always in a hurry to get things done. Maybe there was a reason for that. Our family believes in God, and we believe things happen for a reason,” he said. “He died protecting us.”

Rutherford’s childhood friend Josh Martin, 25, now lives in North Carolina. He said his father saw Rutherford when he was in town.

“He said he looked extremely good — big and strong,” Martin said. “He was always a skinny kid, and he wasn’t a kid anymore.”

Rutherford was a former Marietta Times sports reporter who won an Ohio Associated Press Award for “Best Game Story” for his 2004 article on the Monroe Central softball team’s championship win. His bachelor’s degree from Marietta College was in journalism.

He was also an athlete, playing both basketball and football during his years at Frontier High School.

“He was just a super young man,” said Frontier football Coach Russ Morris. “He had the kind of personality where you just loved to have him around. He was definitely someone his parents can be proud of.”

Friend Eric Reed, 25, said he couldn’t begin to count the hours he spent in Rutherford’s driveway playing basketball growing up.

The two were friends since before kindergarten and graduated from Frontier together.

“We were best friends our entire childhood,” Reed said. “Chris had more zest for life than anyone I’ve ever been around. He was willing to do anything, he was always upbeat and so resilient. If something went wrong, he just decided to go in another direction.”

Just about the only word that Rutherford’s friends can’t use to describe him is shy.

“He was given the nickname ‘Wild Thing’ once in high school,” said Reed. “We had this motivational speaker and we were in an assembly and he (Rutherford) got up and sang ‘Wild Thing’ in front of the whole school. He brought the house down.”

Rutherford’s always-sunny attitude even extended to his tours in Iraq, said Reed.

“You would think going to war he would show some fear or negativity,” he said. “But he was unbelievable. It was just another experience for him.”

Reed said word has been spreading fast in the community about Rutherford’s death. He got the news from another high school classmate while pumping gas.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” he said. “I’m just wishing it wasn’t real.”

The news has impacted more than just the soldier’s friends and family.

Nancy Matheny, whose son has been in Iraq and is awaiting another deployment, said it hits home for those who have loved ones overseas.

“We pray every day that something like this doesn’t happen,” she said. “Unfortunately it always happens to someone’s family, and it’s every family’s nightmare. With my son’s first deployment, every time I would hear a car door at night I would think, ‘This is it.’”

Matheny has been working with the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross to provide support to military families. She said the group will do everything it can for the Rutherfords.

“Hopefully we can reach out and meet any needs they have,” she said.

Martin said Tuesday that he, like many of Rutherford’s loved ones, still remained shell-shocked.

“This couldn’t have happen to a more undeserving person,” he said. “Chris’s sense of humor could be a little brash, but I can’t even think of a time when he did something wrong or gave you a reason to be upset with him. He was a really fun, really great kid.”

Rutherford also seemed to have adjusted well to military life, Martin said.

“I think he really liked what he was doing,” he said. “He never felt like he’d made a bad decision.”

Paul Morton was Rutherford’s pastor at Valley View Baptist Church in Reno.

“Chris Rutherford was an exceptional young man, and his death is devastating for the church and this community,” he said. “He was just a fine young man.

“Chris was a huge NASCAR fan, and that’s what drew him into sports journalism,” Morton said. “But he made the decision to make the Army his career; it was something he wanted to do.”

He said Rutherford had opened his Christmas presents while he was home last month, and the family celebrated his June birthday a little early just before he returned to Iraq.

“He didn’t go back with any trepidation,” Morton said. “He had no fear. His quote was always, ‘It’s not that bad.’”

The pastor called the Rutherford family “a vital part of our church, and we take care of each other. That’s just what Christians are supposed to do.”

From the Marietta Times


Road named after fallen soldier

By Kate York, kyork@mariettatimes.com October 16, 2007

NEWPORT— When Chris Rutherford was a student at Newport Elementary, he probably never could have imagined that someday the road alongside the school would bear his name.

That’s exactly what happened Monday, as new street signs went up and the road became 1Lt Rutherford Drive in honor of the 25-year-old Army first lieutenant who was killed July 2 by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

“It’s such an honor to have people keep thinking of him,” said his mother, Penny, after the ceremony Monday. “I don’t want him to ever be forgotten.”

Penny Rutherford, her husband, Gary, and their younger son, Brandon, helped put the new street sign on its post as students from Newport Elementary and members of the community watched and cheered.

Newport Elementary Principal Greg Morus said the idea for the signs struck him one day as he was pulling into the school’s parking lot.

“It was the only street in Newport that didn’t have a name,” he said. “When you lose someone in the community like this, you have to somehow find a way to remember. This was a good way. It’s our honor to be able to do this.”

Morus has been working on the project since July, along with Newport Township trustees Bill Bowersock, Rod King and Phil Smitely.

It’s the second landmark to be named for Rutherford; a fitness center, still under construction, at Frontier High School also shares his name.

Before the new signs went up, Newport teachers took some time to tell students about the man whose name would go on them.

“We talked in class about what it means to be an American patriot and about soldiers who fight for our freedom even though they don’t know us personally,” said American history teacher Sheila Giffin, who also taught Rutherford when he was in seventh and eighth grades. “I tried to make sure they understood that Christopher is a hero — not a Hollywood hero or a ball player hero but the real, honest-to-goodness thing.”

After the first sign went up Monday, the students stayed outside to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the national anthem, while adults blinked back a few tears.

“Chris was just a contagious person,” said Morus. “You’d be talking to him, and he would have you laughing and smiling and you wouldn’t want to leave. He was that kind of kid. People sometimes ask why we’re still talking about him and it’s because you can’t help but to think about him and talk about him.”

Morus shared with the students three qualities Rutherford had that he hopes they’ll apply to their own lives: The ability to always smile, a positive attitude and a willingness to share with others.

“Every time I pull into this school now I’ll see that sign,” he said. “And I’ll think of those three things.”




Sports field re-dedicated to soldier

Battalion replaces sign after discovering its link to Newport native killed in Iraq

October 20, 2009
By Kate York, 

Not long ago, a soldier taking a closer look at a sign bleached white from the Iraq sun discovered a barely legible name very familiar to those in Washington County: Chris Rutherford.

The sign at the desert Army base marked a sports field dedicated to Newport native Rutherford, 25, killed in action by a roadside bomb in July 2007. The field was named soon after his death but with a new group of soldiers at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, no one knew Rutherford or the history of the sign any longer.

Even family back home in Newport thought the spot named Lt. Rutherford Field was probably no longer in use.

"I just thought about it not long ago," Rutherford's grandfather, Herman Thomas, said Monday. "I wondered if it was all pulled up and gone."

The soldiers had been using the field, which Rutherford and his fellow soldiers in the 19th Engineer Battalion had played weekly football games on in 2007, for ultimate Frisbee since April.

Eventually, a soldier took a better look at the field's sign and realized there was a story there as well as a link to a fallen soldier.

First Sgt. Gerald Eagan did a little Internet research and was soon in touch with Rutherford's friend and roommate, Cpt. Matt Blankenship. Blankenship shared stories of Rutherford on the field - he was dubbed "banana hands" for deflecting every ball thrown his way - and about Rutherford in life.

He could instantly cheer anyone up, Blankenship said about his friend, in an Army release.

"He was just an amazing guy to be around," he said. "Even when he was pulled out of the vehicle (after being injured), conscious and waiting for the medics, he was still smiling and joking. He was just an amazing person."

Plans were soon made to replace the sign with a new one and a ceremony was held re-dedicating the field to Rutherford, who was a graduate of Frontier High School and Marietta College and a lifelong athlete.

"I'm just glad I'm able to find out his story," said Sgt. Michael Manzo, of Maine, who hung the new sign. "Now he's not just another fallen soldier."

The fact that another group of soldiers now knows her son is an honor, said Rutherford's mother, Penny, who found out about the new sign Monday.

"It still amazes me that people care that much," she said. "I want it to continue because I don't ever want him to be forgotten."

Penny Rutherford said her son's football team at the base won the championship there in 2007.

"When Christopher died, they sent us the trophy," she said. "I still have that."

The field's sign joins a growing list of monuments to the soldier, including a street named for him outside Newport Elementary School, a building named for him at Frontier High School and a monument put into place last fall at Fort Knox in his honor.

"It's just wonderful," said Thomas. "It means a lot to us."


Soldier Killed in Iraq Was Budding Sports Reporter

News & Features Fred Kight · ·

Chris Rutherford was a high school sports star who went on to college to write about sports. He also had a sports show on an Ohio radio station.

Now, the station and the local newspaper are reporting on Rutherford, an Army lieutenant killed in Iraq.

Rutherford put his journalism degree on hold to serve his country, and folks from his hometown, Newport, say the 25-year-old did it with a smile.

Fred Kight reports from member station WOUB

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