Veterans Day: Local veteran reflects on service

Lt. Col. Hugh Rutledge

by Stacy

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Lt. Col. Hugh Rutledge, 98, couldn't hear very well because "a bit of gunfire blew this ear out." But, the retired army veteran has no problem talking.

With the help of his daughter, who wrote questions and comments on a white erase board, he reflected on his almost 30 years in the army. Rutledge served in the army during World War 2, the Korean War and Vietnam.

"The Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. We were told that the next thing the Japanese were going to do was hit the California coast where we were at Camp Roberts. So we moved all the automobiles out on the parade grounds, so they wouldn't have a place to land," he said.

At 98, he said his memory isn't perfect: "It's difficult to try to get your brain to go back." But, on Veterans Day and really every day, he made sure to remember "many close friends lost in the war. "

But, Rutledge's clearest and best memories weren't from the battlefield. Instead, he remembered traveling and the different cultures, like in Korea.

"The Korean people, to me, were absolutely marvelous. I enjoyed them while I was there," he said.

And Germany: "The people there were so pleasant and kind that we had them over our house continuously," he said.

His daughter Diane Rutledge said she knew her father sacrificed to serve.

"I know what it's like to have your father go away, and you don't know if he's going to come back," his daughter Diane said.

But her father remained humble.

"I don't think I sacrificed anything to serve in the military. The war came along and I happened to be eligible for it," he said.

Rutledge's children said the VA Medical Center has helped take care of their father. They said he was recently diagnosed with cancer, but is determined to live to 100.