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70th Anniversary of Normandy Landing Celebrated
Lillian Rutherford, widow of Donald Rutherford, pondered, “How many of her brothers “ were in harm’s way on that day. And, had her husband served there?
A phrase from CNN’s covered beckoned flooding memories. She wondered how many desired like those shown on the documentary to be the first to die at Normandy. 24,000 American, British and Canadian troops made an amphibious landing, preceded by an airborne assault.
“That would be awful to take a gun and shoot people,” she said regarding the day's historic commemoration.
Mrs. Rutherford recalled that her late brothers, Jessee and Lester Shuff Jr., served in the infantry. Rex Shuff served as an Air Force navigator. After the war, he worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His wife, Marie, was a nurse at International Nickel.
Carl, Donald and Robert Shuff served in the Air Force too during WW II.
Carl and Robert made the military their career. Known to family members as “Cork,” Carl lives in Florida, where he previously worked at a hospital. His son, John served in the Air Force. He is now a deputy sheriff.
Robert Shuff became a meteorologist . Before his death from cancer, he was one of the voices for the National Weather Service at Tri-State Airport. He and his family toured the world, including a stint at Eewetak , where nuclear tests were conducted in the 50s. He declined an offer to be a television “weather man,” mom said. He died from kidney cancer and his late son, Robert, perished from brain cancer.
Donald Shuff did not stay in the military. He returned home and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to work for General Electric. Jessee worked as a carpenter in North Carolina.
All survived their service during World War II.
Donald Rutherford served under General George S. Patton, as a private in an engineering division. His sister Peggy served as in the Women’s Air Corps, where she met a disabled soldier and married. He worked at the Veterans Hospital in Huntington, WV for over 40 years..
Although this recitation only specifically names family members who served, many families in Huntington ( and elsewhere) have surviving “greatest generation” veterans
The pictured memorial on Veterans Memorial Blvd. serves as one Huntington reminder of military service, along with the Memorial Arch at Ritter Park where the city’s Memorial Day celebration took place.
For photos taken by Donald Rutherford during his service, click: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/obit/080317-rutherford-donaldrutherford/index.html
He now becomes a chosen representative of those still living and those who have passed.
Here are highlights of “dad” memories:
He had 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.
A member of the Guyandotte VFW and AFGE, “Doc” graduated from Buffalo High School (Wayne) where he played in the band, was a former deacon, choir member, assistant. Song leader at Jefferson Ave. Baptist Church, a retired maintenance worker at the Chesapeake Family Medical Center, one the founding shareholders of the VA Credit Union, and assisted his surviving son, Tony, on various writing/publishing endeavors, including “The Entertainer,” “Graffiti,” and Huntington News Network.
Growing up as I did with allergies and asthma, he always would bring me my latest comic books from the drug store and compensate for my awkwardness on electronic projects by performing the mechanical aspects of, for instance, erecting, such as a 10 ½” satellite dish in the back yard.
In addition, during the Cold War, he once took part in a several days “fallout shelter” experience with fellow VA workers in the basement of the VA Hospital’s Recreation Hall.
A member of the ‘greatest generation,’ he did not converse much except to acknowledge that he was feeling ‘top of the ladder.” Although he faithfully kept his physician’s appointments, he would be quick to postpone his appointment if someone else had a severe illness while his was only a checkup. He tolerated his sensitive son’s news and reporting work -- usually enjoying an opportunity to follow a fire truck. He had a gift of helping others even when those who seemed continually least appreciative.
During his stay at the hospital, he kept asking “when can I go home” and occasionally started gingerly placing his legs in a position to get out of bed, even though he was not able to be released.
As the late Chaplin of the U.S. Senate Peter Marshall stated , “We will see you in the morning.”