MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE "Doc" Rutherford and Greatest Generation Keeping Memories Alive

Updated 16 weeks ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

"Doc & Buddies"
"Doc & Buddies"
Huntington, WV (HNN) - As the ritual of remembrance occurs again, fewer and fewer members of the Greatest Generation , which included service in World War II, continue living. Although dad passed away in 2008, the continuation of veterans paying the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan continues. Each casualty touches yet another group of family and friends.

Veterans returning from foreign service include many survivors who if not for state of the art medical knowledge and technology would not have 'made it' in other eras.

Donald Rutherford had married Lillian Shuff who came from a military family. The sons of Lola Shuff-Eves and Lester Shuff all served in World War II and returned (Jessie; Roland; Junior, Cork; Donald; Rex). Rutherford went to work at the VA Hospital , which will be named after medal of honor winner Woody Williams, when President Trump signs the legislation that has already passed Congress. 

During WW II no one talked about the emotional consequences labeling it "battle fatigue" or "battle shock," where now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which 'surfaced' as a consequence of Vietnam is now widely and openly discussed. It does not come from horrible sights and sounds or experiences during military service, it can be triggered by a traumatic event, such as a fire, terrorist attack, or car accident.

Chapel Service
Chapel Service
Soldiers returning from the urban sands no more have a stigma as bold as 'walking wounded,' as the military thanks to our Senators and Representatives have recognized the emotional component of coming home.  The Huntington VA Medical Center where dad spent all his working years, just dedicated a new facility to treat warriors seeking help for intrusive memories of their service to the country.

However as more graying greatest generation members pass, so too does a
non-awareness of having experienced or seen portions of Hitler's Final Solution.  Occasionally, ideas surface that a Holocaust hoax occurred. As oral histories fade, filmmakers still engrave the atrocities of the Germans with such works as "The Boy in Striped Pajamas."
Rhine River
Rhine River

It's too early for substantial reflection to emerge on the silver screen related to the current wars. Actually, those films made tend to not find an audience. But for the enduring commentaries about Viet Nam to find approving audiences, it took until at least 1978's "Coming Home" and "The Deer Hunter" and even "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989). Compare that to the popularity of "The Best Years of Our Lives" which celebrated WW II vets restarting their lives only a year or two after the surrender.

Soldiers March
Soldiers March

Yet, though trenches battles prevailed, it took more years for serious reflection on the use of atomic weaponry on the Japanese ( "Hiroshima mon amour" 1959)  and even longer to face the internment of Japanese Americans ("Unfinished Business," 1984; "Come See the Paradise, " 1990).

Back to the Greatest Generation, dad served proudly in World War II in the Third Army under Gen. George S. Patton, helping construct the longest Bailey bridge across the Rhine River in Germany and liberating one of the concentration camps. During one German battle he was the only soldier left alive, said his sister Jean Walters. And, like most of the soldiers of the era, he spoke of the best memories of fighting the German's, such as chauffeuring, building bailey bridges, and a few close buddies, but did not speak of the remainder. Interestingly, his two buddies communicated sparsely too --- their annual Christmas card.

"Company G"
"Company G"

When Rev. Gary Patton delivered his talk two year's ago at the law enforcement memorial service, he stated that in counseling people at death's door, most ask 'will I be remembered?'

So, this is not just to remember dad, it's to again allow the internet audience to see a bundle of photographs smuggled out of Germany when the troops departed.

Professional model/cosplayer, Elsa Littlepage visits the grave of a World War II soldier
Professional model/cosplayer, Elsa Littlepage visits the grave of a World War II soldier
File Photo by JH


And, in the words from the biography of the late chaplain of the U.S. Senate Peter Marshall, "See you in the morning, dad. Hope that your loving irishsetters , --- Sir Sam, Sage, and retired show dog, Brian to whom he regularly gave insulin treatments, and, now, Danny who saved you from bleeding to death in the TV room --- found you in Heaven beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

DONALD L. RUTHERFORD

1922-2008

Crematorium shows the chamber where Germans burned bodies of Jewish concentration camp prisoners in the Holocaust.
Crematorium shows the chamber where Germans burned bodies of Jewish concentration camp prisoners in the Holocaust.

Some of the archives remain. One is the last car he drove which sets untouched in the driveway at his home from the day before he was taken to the hospital. 

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