Brigadier General Donald L. Rutherford on "My Miami"

(photo by Adam Skoczylas) Brig. Gen. Donald L RutherfordOne star general and a chaplain in the Army. I was very honored to have had the opportunity of interviewing this gentleman and general, Brigadier General Donald L. Rutterford. As a flight attendant, I am able to meet and interact with people of different backgrounds, social status and creed. General Rutherford was one of those people. I was also told by my team mate that it is very rare that one gets to see the Army General (so I should make the best of it).

After receiving a brief lesson and introduction about symbols and stations in the army, I realized that the general would be a great story. The General has served in the US Army for 32 years, active duty for 20 years and has one of the highest rank in the military, one star general. For 28 years he has been a priest where he counsels his team mates. He has devoted his life and time to helping others where needed. In theme with “My Miami” the General shares his experience in Miami. People visit the Miami area for work, fun and sun, but the general’s visit was more work than fun in the most unusual way. 

Most of you are very familiar with the events of hurricane Andrew and the damages it caused the state of Florida. Hurricane Andrew, devastated Florida in August of 1992 and disrupted the lives of many. We often talk about what great city this is for fun and sun, this time it was for act of humanity. In order to get the state and city from the destruction and to aid displaced residents, army brigades were dispatched all over Florida to facilitate. This was the occasion that the General visited the state, no sun, no fun. He was greeted with sights that would have been intolerable to the average person. He is trained for situations like this and his expertise took over.

We are currently in the hurricane season, and there are notices all over the Miami area for residents to be prepared. The General’s advice to the residents and visitors of Miami; be prepared and if there is a warning to get out…get out. The city can be rebuilt, normalcy can be restored but you will never get your life back.

Below is a brief Q & A with Brigadier General Donald L. Rutherford. It has been a very unusual visit and many assignments and engagements later, therefore, the General was not able to remember the names of these places.

DM: It’s an honor to be in your presence and having the opportunity to have this discussion with you. Have you ever visited Miami?

DLR: I have. My first visit to Miami was in August of 1992 during hurricane Andrew.

DM: Where did you stay?

DLR: My brigade stayed at a Coast Guard Station and Homestead Airforce Base. We were basically bouncing around helping so we did not have a stable station. I can remember the very first night we arrived, it was under rough conditions. I found a patch of grass, made a bed from a poncho liner which is the army blanket, I put my bug spray on. I woke up the next morning on a putting green at the 5th hole. On my second night, I slept at the drive thru of a Suntrust Bank. Another memorable night I spent at the County Court House where I stacked law books to make a cot in the law library.

DM: What were the conditions here on your visit?

DLR: As it was during the hurricane, the city was in a deplorable state. It was very devastating. Various areas were heavily affected where residents were displaced, stranded and had no support or ways of evacuating. I remembered rescuing a lady whose house was completely covered in water. She has been there for several days. The water has seeped into her pores causing them to rot. We had rescue support team that was able to get her the proper medical treatment. There were similar cases all over the city.

DM: What were you commissioned to do in Florida?

DLR: My team and I were called in to help the survivors of the storm.

DM: How do you feel about people in the Miami area at that time?

DLR: When things are bad, humanity gets very good. The people of Miami all came together in rescue efforts to help their neighbors. They appreciated what the soldiers did for them.

DM: Where is home?

DLR: I am from upstate New York and I have not lived there for over 20 years. I have returned for visits. In the army, home is where the army sends you. Home is where needed.

General Rutherford has devoted his life to serving in the army and his country. He is very passionate about what he does and enjoys making a difference in someone’s life everyday. We thank General Rutherford for his time and most of all for his service to this country and his efforts to heal the wounds of this country. We hope his next visit to Miami will be one of fun and sun.

 Donald L. Rutherford
Brigadier General, USA; graduate, The State University of New York at Albany (ROTC) with advanced degrees from St. Bernard’s Seminary of the University of Rochester and the United States Army War College; ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, Diocese of Albany; served as the Command Chaplain, United States Army Europe and Seventh Army, Command Chaplain Multi-National Corps Iraq, Camp Victory, Baghdad; currently Deputy Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Army.

_Daedrian McNaughton

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