WEIRTON, W.Va. (WTRF) – Many veterans will tell you that military service can take you all over the world. For some that only means a few places, but for U.S. Army veteran Michael Rutledge it’s more literal.
In his career, he and his family moved multiple times; traveling to many continents, countries and even different parts of the United States.
Somebody asked me where I was stationed and I said the East Coast, West Coast and anywhere in between.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
More than 20 years with the Army, and countless miles traveled to stations across the world, all began when Michael Rutledge enlisted in 1968.
Back then there was the draft and my Dad, he knew somebody on the draft board and my number was coming up, so I just went and enlisted in the Army and got it over with.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
Rutledge started in the motor pool, keeping vehicles combat ready, including during his year in Vietnam.
We worked on the tanks and we’d have to go out and get the APCs that were blown up and things like that. It was kind of a rough time.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
After returning home, Rutledge decided the military life was for him. He stayed in and began a career of moving across the U.S. and overseas with his growing family.
You end up in a military installation it’s only about a three year tour. So, you get settled in and you figure well here comes another duty assignment.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
7News asked Rutledge where he was stationed and where he traveled when he had leave, but it may be easier to ask what part of the world he hasn’t seen.
Rutledge said he’s been stationed at Fort Lewis, Fort Dix, Fort Bragg and Fort Campbell. He also completed two tours in Germany that lasted multiple years each as well as one tour in Korea.
When he had time, Rutledge also traveled to several continents and spent time exploring each place he was stationed with his family. He recalls they liked Germany so much that he chose to take assignments there on two different occasions.
Rutledge worked his way up the ranks, finishing his career as a Sergeant First Class in the motor pool.
Being a motor sergeant, you have to keep all the vehicles going. In Vietnam we worked on tanks, APCs, armored personnel carriers.
It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. It’s a 24/7 job. You get up at 5:00 in the morning and go to formation. You run PT and you stay there until your day’s finished. It may not finish until 9:00 or 10:00 at night because of the things that you have to do.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
While there were moments for rest and relaxation and to see the world with his family, Rutledge said the constant moving was difficult. There were also many times when he had to leave his family for weeks at a time to do field exercises.
It’s not an easy life, especially for the families. You really have to have a strong family tie, a support system through the family because they go through a lot too. You start moving them around all over the place and you’re gone all the time. I mean, it’s tough. It’s tough. You’ve got to really have the the will to stay in.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
After having to leave his family for a year while stationed in Korea, Rutledge returned home and decided it was time to retire from the military.
He retired in the early summer of 1990. Fort Campbell was given orders to deploy overseas during Desert Storm just a few months later.
Rutledge received numerous Meritorious Service Medals, Army Accommodation Medals, Army Achievement Medals and Good Conduct Medals. He said he remains proud of what he did.
If I had frequent flyer miles back then I would of had a new plane I think.Michael Rutledge, U.S. Army Veteran
Although he is retired from the military, Rutledge is still active in veterans organizations like the VFW Post 2716, American Legion Post 10 and Vietnam Veterans Support Group.