When I was preparing to enter the Army at age 17, I asked my mentor, “George – what advice do you have for me?” He said, “When it’s tough, and it will be, take it day by day. When it’s bad, take it hour by hour. And when it’s more than you think you can bear, take it moment by moment.” This is one tough moment, George.
When I finished the Special Forces Qualification Course, George gave me one his berets. A high honor, and I said, “George – that course was the toughest thing I ever did, and your advice really helped me make it through.” Of course George wouldn’t take credit, and said, “There will be plenty of things in life that will be far tougher than that course.” And once again, George was right. He was always right.
We lost a great man on March 11th, but George left us all a gift. George’s legacy will live on in all of us, and our heirs, because he was the living example of two fundamental virtues:
First – Humanity. George believed in his heart and soul about duty and honor, and of course, country. Duty and honor was what George was all about, and he understood how risk and commitment properly developed character. Simply put, George always put service above himself. George was the epitome of humility, and always deferred attention and recognition to others. Service above self.
Second – Courage. Aristotle first asked us to consider what makes a good life. We know one aspect is to answer, “For whose good do I serve?” The other is to live graciously, and that’s what George did. He never complained, and was always thankful for what he had, who was in his life, and the many blessing bestowed upon him. In particular, Trudy and Kathy. George’s exemplary example taught me how to be a soldier, a man, a husband, a father and now a Granddad. Being good at those things means striving to achieve balance between comfort and commitment, and George always modeled perfect balance because he knew what sacrifices were required. And for the rest of my days, I will try to be more like George in every way. Humble, kind, gregarious, and loving. George was a beacon of resilience, gratitude and courage.
When my son graduated from Ranger School a year ago, he told me the advice George gave him kept him going (the same advice he imparted to me 30 years before). My son also told me when the going got tough, he would imagine George standing a few years from him encouraging him to hang tough. George was there then. And George will be there for all of us in tough times. We just have to remember the way George lived his life, and you’ll remember that adversity reveals courage and character. As Charles Dickens’ said, “The men who learn endurance are they who call the whole world brother.”
George often said, “Don’t be in a hurry for the future, it’s coming fast enough!” George generously shared his wisdom over the years, with words and deeds, and that wisdom serves as a blueprint for all of us to live virtuous lives for the service of others. George’s legacy will live on for generations as the model of a Good Life.
Go n-éirí an bóthar leat – May the road rise up to meet you, George.
George Callahan, 92, of Henderson, passed away Monday, March 11, 2014. He was born July 31, 1921 in Somerville, Massachusetts and lived in Henderson, NV since 2008.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Trudy; daughter Kathy and son-in-law Richard Hebert; sister Irene Dwyer; sister-in-law Maria Seider of Heidelberg, Germany; nieces and nephews on both sides of the Atlantic; as well as his extended family “Army son” Jan Rutherford and his wife Jacquie, and “Army grandson” Kevin Rutherford; and a wide circle of friends.
George was a decorated career officer, and served his country for 30 years after volunteering for the U.S. Army in 1940. His service included WWII Pacific Theater, Korea and Vietnam; culminating with service in the 10th Special Forces Group Europe. He attained Master Jumper status with 165 parachute jumps, and earned a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Combat Infantryman Badge. After retiring from the Army to Homestead, Florida, he worked in retail logistics with J.C. Penney and Bloomingdales.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to support causes that had a special place in George’s heart: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (www.specialops.org) or Heaven Can Wait Animal Society (www.hcws.org/).