Twelve-year-old Garret Christopher Rudd was honored on behalf of his father, Christopher Rudd, at a ceremony in Cheyenne on February 11, 2017. Garret accepted the “Honorable Order of St. Barbara” award for his father, Christopher, who died last summer at the age of 37.
Sergeant First Class Christopher Rudd enlisted in April 1998 as a cannoniere with the C/2-300 Field Artillery Regiment of the Wyoming Army Reserve National Guard. He held multiple positions in the regiment and served through July 2010; he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice, once in 2004 and again in 2009. Following his tours, he spent three years as a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 920th Forward Support Company in Lovell. In 2013 SFC Rudd served as a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Platoon Sergeant with the A/2-300 in Gillette until his passing.
According to Mike Laird, Brigade Command Sergeant Major of the 115th Field Artillery Brigade, The Order of St. Barbara Award is given to members of the army that have distinguished themselves in field artillery.
“It’s a very prestigious award because it’s tough to earn,” Laird said.
Rudd was nominated last year by leadership in the National Guard; the award was being processed at the time of his death. Following his death, Laird’s boss, Colonel Greg Phipps went to the field artillery association and asked if the award could be presented to a family member.
According to Laird, the association was excited that they would be able to bestow the award to his son in his honor.
Six awards were presented this year, five to soldiers in uniform. After receiving their awards, the soldiers stepped aside and Laird called Garret Rudd up to receive his father’s award. Garret’s grandparents, Dana and Sheila Rudd, accompanied him. Along with his grandparents, his mother and step-father, Skye and Dallas Cervantes, and his uncle, Daniel Rudd, attended the ceremony.
The medal Rudd received was handcrafted from bullets.
“It was hard for all of us,” Laird said. “It was a very touching celebration of Chris’s life and service. There was a standing ovation of 300 people and not a dry eye in the place.”
In addition to the Order of St. Barbara award, Rudd had previously earned the WY ARNG State Active Duty Ribbon, the WY ARNG Achievement Ribbon, two Army Achievement Medals, and Army Commendation Medal, as well as the Combat Action Badge.
“We were honored to be around all those National Guard people,” Sheila Rudd said. “[it was] such a great thing for Garret to be part of. He is part of the National Guard family now.”