Army Staff Sgt. Rusty H. Christian
Died January 28, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
24, of Greeneville, Tenn.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died Jan. 28 in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
(Taken from www.greenevillesun.com of Feb. 8, 2010)Staff Sgt. Rusty Christian was recalled Saturday as a wonderful friend, father, son, brother, husband and soldier during a memorial service and reception for family and friends at the MeadowView Conference center in Kingsport.
Christian, who joined the military just after graduating from Greeneville High School in 2004, died on Jan. 28 in Oruzgan province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an explosion of an improvised explosive device (IED).
Sgt. Christian was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
About 300 people lined up Saturday to pay their respects and express their sympathies to members of Christian's family.
Among those were U.S Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, and state Rep. David Hawk, the Greeneville Republican.
NEXT STOP IS ARLINGTON
Neither made any public remarks. But Roe said he would be attending Christian's burial at Arlington National Cemetery, which will be held at a later date.
During the reception, guests gathered in groups and exchanged smiles, tears and hugs as they recalled their memories of the fallen soldier.
In one corner, a continuous video production showed pictures of Christian from his youth through his military experiences.
"Rusty was dedicated to our mission. He was a warrior who stood at the ready," said Col. Rand Binford, commander of the 1st Special Forces Group.
"Rusty knew the challenges he faced as he joined to fight for our nation, and for all of us, and he accepted them readily," Binford said.
"Rusty was the best of our kind. He was everything you could ask for, and more," said Staff Sgt. David Schaefer, a senior medic member with Christian's team who missed his team's last deployment because of a broken leg.
Schaefer read excerpts from letters Christian's team members had sent upon learning of his death.
"I was lucky to call him friend," one soldier said.
"He was a complete professional. He loved his job and did what needed to be done, regardless of the risk," said another.
Other letters spoke of Christian's devotion to duty, spending every waking hour studying to learn and master every task.
"Rusty was also good for the morale of our team," Schaefer said. "He always had a joke. At the end of the day, when we were tired or maybe a little keyed up, one of the best ways to decompress was to just sit and talk with Rusty," he added.
BROTHER GIVES EULOGY
The eulogy was delivered by Aaron Christian, Rusty's brother and a teacher and coach at Chuckey-Doak High School.
"We've all heard a lot of nice things said about Rusty's devotion to his country and his fellow soldiers, and I couldn't be more proud," Aaron Christian said.
"But being a hero was just Rusty's day job. He was equally dedicated to his job as a brother, a son, a husband, and a father."
Rusty's wife, Amber Christian, resides with the couple's two young children at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he was based before he deployed to Afghanistan.
The Christians' children are a daughter, Taylor, who became three-years-old on Jan. 26, and a son, Gavin, who will be one-year-old on Feb. 26.
"Being married to a soldier is a tough job and it takes a love that is tough," Aaron Christian said. "Rusty and Amber had that kind of love. His family was the most important thing in the world to him, and I'm glad that he and Amber were blessed to have two wonderful children together."
"Rusty and I were very close," Aaron continued. "As a brother, I couldn't have asked for more. He was my best friend and I'm so proud of him.
"I think if Rusty knew what his fate would be, he wouldn't have hesitated," Aaron Christian continued.
"We can all take comfort in knowing that his story will never die. Rusty, I will always carry you in my heart."
Also on Saturday at Chuckey-Doak High School, where Chuckey-Doak and South Greene were playing basketball, a moment of silence was observed for the fallen Christian, and approximately $550 was raised in a joint effort by both sets of fans to help the family with travel expenses.