- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Staff Sgt. George S. Rentschler
Died April 7, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
31, of Louisville, Ky.; assigned to the Army’s 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; killed April 7 when his military vehicle was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade in Baghdad.
Family, friends remember soldier killed in Iraq
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Staff Sgt. George Rentschler was eulogized Saturday as “the greatest dad” by his 12-year-old son during the funeral for the soldier killed in Iraq.
Rentschler’s family, friends and fellow soldiers remembered him as a competitor, a mentor and someone who enjoyed humor. As his flag-draped casket was carried from Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church, boys who were coached by Rentschler in baseball at Fort Knox wore ballcaps paying their own tribute to the soldier.
Rentschler, 31, died April 7 when a rocket hit the side of a tank in which he was riding. He was with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division.
His son Scott fought his emotion as he described how people remembered his father: as the best coach they had ever had, or as the best friend they had ever had.
“And also, the greatest dad you could ever ask for,” Scott said to a chorus of “amen” from some in the congregation.
Rentschler’s mother Lillian read a poem to a fallen soldier, and his wife also spoke.
“He died doing what he loved,” said Rentschler’s widow, Rachel.
She read from a letter she wrote her dead husband, saying she would miss his kisses “and his goofiness.”
“I will love him always and I will miss him terribly,” she said.
The Rev. T. Vaughn Walker of First Gesthemane Baptist Church prayed for a “rapid resolution” to the war so other families wouldn’t have to suffer as Rentschler’s had.
“George loved his role as a man of the military and we are indebted to him for his contribution to humanity,” Walker said.
The Rev. Allen Bonnell of Clintwood, Va., remembered Rentschler as a friend and classmate at Southern Middle School.
Bonnell said that Rentschler later risked his life getting him home one night when the roads had iced over. Rentschler had three wrecks in his car, but Bonnell made it home and avoided trouble.
Rentschler received his diploma from Male High School before joining the Army. During his 10 years in the service, he spent time at Fort Knox, Fort Hood in Texas, and in Bosnia. In October, George Rentschler shipped out for Iraq, with a short stop in Germany, where his wife and two sons stayed.
During the service, Bonnell listed achievements in Rentschler’s military career, including being awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously.
Burial was in Pythian Ridge Cemetery in Sturgis, Ky., where other members of Rentschler’s family are buried.
Louisville sergeant killed when tank hit in Iraq
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A 31-year-old soldier from Louisville was killed in Iraq when a rocket hit the side of his tank, his mother said.
Sgt. George Scott Rentschler was killed on the night of April 7. The rocket hit as he was riding in the tank while checking on his platoon members, who were working at a checkpoint, Lillian Rentschler said Wednesday.
Rentschler’s wife, Rachel, and two sons, 12-year-old Scott and 5-year-old Brock, have been living in Germany since Rentschler shipped out for Iraq.
Rentschler, who was serving in the 135th Armored Division, attended Central High School and graduated from Male High School before joining the Army. During 10 years in the service, he held several jobs and spent time at Fort Knox; Fort Hood, Texas; and in Bosnia.
He was scheduled to depart Iraq on leave on April 19. His mother said she had hoped he could be home in time for the Kentucky Derby.
Instead, she received a phone call from her daughter-in-law telling her that her son had been killed. A couple of hours later, two Army officials from Fort Knox arrived and confirmed her son’s death.
“When the military shows up at your door, you know it’s real,” she said.
Rentschler had tried to persuade her son to leave the Army.
“There wasn’t any talking him out of it because he loved what he was doing,” she said. “He loved his country. And now he’s given his life for it. I hope they appreciate it.”
Once he got out of the service, George Rentschler was hoping to become a coach, having always been involved in coaching youth teams in baseball and football. “He loved children,” his mother said, especially his two boys.
Rentschler, a substitute teacher for Jefferson County Public Schools and a minister at First Gethsemane Church, said she always had reservations about her son being sent to Iraq.
“I didn’t want him to go, but he’s a sergeant and he’s been overseas before,” she said.
George Rentschler would try to reassure his mother about his safety.
“He always told me that the only way he would get hurt was if they took a rocket to the side of his tank,” his mother said. “That’s what happened.”
— Associated Press