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Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Last Journey

As you know, we have a gentleman in our church who lost his son in the Iraq war.
Recently, the father, Darrel Griffin, Sr., wrote a book called the "Last Journey."

I just finished reading this book and afterwards, I sat down and wrote his father the following letter.


As you know, I gave the first copy of your book to a man I met on an airplane who helped build safety equipement for the vehicles that the army uses. So this week, as I traveled to Hawaii, I picked up my other copy and finished the book last night.

I really do not know what to say....

A few of my thoughts.... the FIRST is that I wish I had known your son. I wish that I could have spent some time with him. He seemed super human. Like he was beyond a normal person. His insight, his writing, his wisdom, his bravery, his heroics, his honor, his fight, his story, his love for his country and his love for his family were WAY above and beyond the normal. It was on a level that most people NEVER EVER see or experience.

Once I got into the battles of war I could NOT put the book down. It was a gut wrenching experience to read it, let alone to have lived it like Griff.

If I were in charge of our country, this book would be required reading for anyone desiring to be President of the USA. I think it would cause a man to think long and hard before sending our troops to war.

The back and forth of the emails and journals were so gripping. And of course the HARDEST part was reading all of this, knowing that the man that I was reading about (YOUR SON) dies at the end of the book.

It was almost too much for me to handle.

I again was drawn to the fact that I wish I could have been a better Pastor to you, and the book itself caused me to think more about my life and my commitment levels to my family, my country and to my Lord.

When I got to the chapter where your son dies.... I cried, closed the book and could not think about anything else for a while. I then drove to one of my favorite places in Oahu, a place called the Aloha Towers.

At the back of this little pier that is full of shops and stores are two restaurants that overlook a military harbor. It looks JUST LIKE PEARL HARBOR.

Whenever I come to Hawaii, I always eat here at least a couple of times because it just looks like a replica of Pearl Harbor and after I ordered my food I REREAD the entire chapter. I did NOT want to read the final chapters until I had reread the chapter where Skip dies. I did NOT want to move on without rereading that chapter. Reading it once seemed unfair to all you went through and alI the emotion that you must have felt writing about his death.

I wanted to understand, I wanted to see, feel and experience what he saw, felt and experienced.

I am NOT making this up... but when I got to to the EXACT point in the story where Griff was shot, while the sun was setting over the harbor, I heard gun fire ring out, just like what Griff would have heard. I turned and looked at the harbor and there were 4 gunboats doing a military/navy excercise and for about 15 minutes these boats were racing around the harbor firing blanks at one another.

This was not an act, this was real, live training, and it just brought the reality home even more that your son's story is being played out all over the world, and I will never hear of another soldier's death without being drawn back to your story and your son's death.

I wanted to write and simply say thank you.

I wish I would have known your son.

He was truly a ONE OF A KIND guy.

His story does need to be turned into a movie.

The script will be powerful.

Your son is my hero. He is a hero to our country.

You did a great job telling his story.

You, too, should be proud of your work, but a million times more proud of having a son who lived out "strength and honor."

I am a better man because you gave me a glimpse into his life.

In love,
Pastor Dudley C. Rutherford

"Last Journey" is written by Darrell Griffin, Sr. and SSG Darrell Griffin, Jr. (KIA March 21, 2007) will be in bookstores June 29, 2009.

A few words from Darrell Griffin, Sr. regarding why "Last Journey" was written:
Most of you soldiers, friends and family know about my son, SSG Darrell Griffin, Jr. He was killed in combat on March 21, 2007. At the time of his death, he and I were working on a book that would reconcile our readings in philosophy with the combat experiences he was having as a member of a Combat Stryker Brigade n Iraq. We were not able to finish the book because of his death. A few months after his death I was allowed to embed for a number of days with his combat unit in Baghdad to complete the necessary research to finish our book. The book is entitled "Last Journey." It is available from It will be in bookstores (e.g. Barnes and Nobel and Borders) June 29,2009. The publishers website for the book is or email to

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Pastor Scott... Missing My Dear Friend Today

Dear Scott,

I miss you, my dear friend. Life is still NOT the same without you. The valley needs your touch, your joy, your prayers, your smile and your charisma. I wish I could be like you in this life and with you in the next life. Today, I visited your burial site. It is sooooooooo beautiful. It is up on this hill, in the midst of trees down below. Every so often, I have stopped to see you, to reflect on who you were and what you meant to me and what you meant to this city. So much has happened in such a short period of time. You would be pleased with the outreach the Church on the Way has with the Latino community. Over HALF of all the babies born in our city are now of Latino decent. It has been miraculous to see the outreach COTW is having in this area. It is the future of our city, and they are poised to be THE church who reaches this group of people.

Your family and heritage continue to grow, and your children would CAUSE you to have a constant smile upon your face. They are difference makers just like their father, and the last time I talked with your sweet wife, she had such confidence in the purposes and plan of God.

Today as I visited your burial site, I noticed that you are buried between two ladies. Florence Jorgenson to your left lived to be 85 years of age, and Mary Wilkens to your right lived to be 84. I was contemplating how your 49 years seem so brief and so unfair to me, but I must remind myself of how God's plans are much more noble and much higher than mine. In HIM DO I TRUST -- completely, fully, without hesitation.

One other thing I thought about is the fact that since your passing, there have been many more advances in the world of technology. We now have social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and various blogs, and I was thinking this morning how I know you would be using these tools to advance the Kingdom of God, like the Apostle Paul, "becoming all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might win some." And I hope you don't mind me taking a moment and using all these tools to remind people of how GREAT A MAN YOU WERE.

You loved God, you loved your family, you loved being a vessel, and you loved the lost. You were full of life, full of the Spirit of God, full of energy and full of love for the Bride of Christ, the Church. I pray that we will never forget your name, your presence, your spirit, your uplifted hands, your ability to lead people to a deeper state of spirituality. You caused us to WANT the deeper things of God.

Scott, I love and miss you. Please know that we will do our best to carry on the work of the Lord. You are in that GREAT CROWD OF WITNESSES, and one day we will be united, and what a reunion that will be! On that day, we will see Jesus face to face... TOGETHER!