Rutherford assumes role as chief of Army chaplains
July 22, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 22, 2011) -- Just minutes after being promoted to major general, the Army's 23rd deputy chief of chaplains was sworn in as the 23rd chief of chaplains in a ceremony at Memorial Chapel aboard Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
Chaplain Donald L. Rutherford, who has served since 2007 as the number two chaplain leading the 2,700-strong corps of Army spiritual leaders, was welcomed to his new position by guest speaker Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.
Rutherford was commissioned in 1977 through the State University of New York in Albany ROTC program. In 1981, he was awarded a master of divinity degree from the University of Rochester, New York.
As Rutherford's mother watched the ceremony from New York via special web camera, Dempsey jokingly stated that when he was asked whether he would accept Rutherford as the new chief chaplains, the chief of staff said it depended on whether Rutherford was Irish, Catholic and had been deployed. Answering his own question, Dempsey said yes and added, "Let's take our chances.”
“We have awful high expectations of you, and I am absolutely confident that you will not only live up to those expectations but exceed them,” said Dempsey.
The promotion and oath of office took place at the front of the Memorial Chapel where both Dempsey and Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst changed Rutherford’s dress epaulets. Rutherford then removed his jacket, dropped to his knees and has his niece and nephew change the tabs on his shirt.
Following a standing ovation, Ruther thanked Dempsey and the Rutherford family for their support over the years, then presented the women in his family with flowers and the men with chief of chaplains coins.
After administration of the oath of office, Dempsey presented Rutherford with the two-star flag of his new position.
“’Our past informs our future.’ Those are the words of God,” said Rutherford. “We are a profession of religious spiritual leaders.”
Rutherford has served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Hurricane Andrew Relief, Operation Desert Thunder and Operation Enduring Freedom. He has also served with Army Europe, 7th Army, XVIII Airborne Corps, 3rd Infantry Division as well as with the 82nd Airborne.
His military education includes the chaplain officer basic and advanced courses, the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College, to name a few. His decorations include the Bronze Star, Humanitarian Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal and the parachutist’s badge among others.