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Carroll County residents came together in large numbers Friday to celebrate the life of the late U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Todd Stout and embrace his family. The county hosted a memorial service adjacent to the Veteran’s Memorial at General Butler State Resort Park.
Stout, who grew up in Worthville, was among three soldiers killed on July 13 when their unit came under attack by insurgents in Kandahar City, Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Stout was assigned to 1st Batallion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, N.C. He served much of his career as a rigger with the 782nd Main Support Battalion and other quartermaster units on Fort Bragg. Stout reclassed in September 2006 to become a chaplain’s assistant.
Funeral services and interment for Staff Sgt. Stout were held in North Carolina on July 23.
“We gather this evening to embrace this family through a most difficult time,” Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said in opening remarks during the service. Tomlinson served as master of ceremonies introducing each participant.
“We come today to celebrate, to mourn and to remember the life of Staff Sgt. Chris Stout,” U.S. Army Chaplain Lt. Col. David Graetz said. “He leaves as his legacy a close, and very real, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He had a desire to serve his country, and I can tell you for the years he has been in (the Army) he’s got quite an impressive list of awards and ribbons that he earned while he was there and doing his duty for his country.”
Graetz noted Stout’s service as a chaplain’s assistant and explained the team concept of the military chaplaincy.
“There is the concept that the Army goes by and that is the unit ministry team – one chaplain and one chaplain’s assistant,” Graetz said. “The unit ministry team is organized to respond to religious, moral and spiritual needs of soldiers, their families and other authorized personnel. If you are over in a combat environment you don’t stray very far from your chaplain assistant. Your chaplain assistant is your protection and your chaplain assistant is there as a force multiplier for the chaplain.
“Scripture even talks about this concept of not going out by yourself. In Acts chapter 16 we read about Paul and Silas going out together – they teamed up and they began to spread the gospel as a team. In Mark chapter six and verse seven, it tells that Jesus sent out his disciples two by two. The same concept is used within the Army chaplain service. The team concept is something that chaplains’ assistants have been part of since 1909.
“I salute and honor Staff Sgt. Christopher Stout and his service to our country and particularly his service to the chaplaincy.”
Ken Lucas, commissioner of Kentucky Veteran’s Affairs, presented medallions to Sharon Neuner, Stout’s mother, and daughter Jacqueline Stout, of Bedford, on behalf of Gov. Steve Beshear.
“It is certainly obvious to me that this young man is in a better place today because of the faith that he has shown,” Lucas said. “That should be in one way a very touching and heart-warming feeling to have and that should be comforting in this time of great sorrow.”
Chris Stout’s longtime pastor and mentor, the Rev. Raymond Sharon of Worthville United Pentecostal Church, said he had known Stout since the fallen soldier had been a baby.
“He has set an example for all of the young people that are here today that nothing can stop you from accomplishing in life a great place in society as Chris has done,” Sharon said. “In his young life he had a lot of ups and downs – a lot of hard times but he always had a smile on his face. I never knew him to get upset against anything. He always had a joy. Chris had a love for his fellow man. He was always there to nourish them, to talk to them, to encourage them. Chris stood for the truth. He lived it.”
State Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, presented to Stout’s mother with a flag that had flown at half staff over the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort on the day of Sgt. Stout’s burial and read a citation of sympathy from the Kentucky General Assembly.
In his remarks, Rand paid tribute not only to the fallen hero but also to the heroic family.
“As a Commonwealth we mourn his loss but we celebrate his life because I know that he has done so much – not just for his community and his state but his nation,” Rand said. “While we recognize his sacrifice, I think sometimes we fail to recognize properly the sacrifice of his family. Not only has he given most of his adult life to the United States military, but his family has given up their time. They have probably moved from location to location, from area to area to let him go into dangerous places to help protect our liberty and all that we enjoy. And we thank them for that. I come today with words and proclamations, but they pale in comparison to the service of Sgt. Stout.”
Others taking part included Jacqueline Stout, the oldest of Stout’s three daughters, who sang “Amazing Grace.” Stout’s widow, Misty Stout, and younger daughters Audreanna and Kristin reside in Fayetteville, N.C., and were unable to attend Friday’s commemorative event.
“Amazing Grace” was also rendered by bagpiper Keith Murphy of Stamping Ground, Ky. Local resident Vanessa Birchfield sang the National Anthem. The Rev. Gerald Wallace read a poem written by Stout’s aunt, Joyce Singer. The American Legion Post 41 and the Reserve Officers Training Corps of Carroll County High School participated in presenting the colors, firing of the volleys and the playing of “Taps.”
At the conclusion of the ceremonies Staff Sgt. Stout’s mother and daughter unveiled a brick in memory of their loved one on the Veteran’s Memorial walkway.
Stout’s daughter, mother and stepfather, Billy Neuner, brother Nathan Neuner, sister Diane Fisher and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins were engulfed by friends and neighbors following the services, sharing hugs, tears and memories.
Sharon Neuner expressed her appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support the family has received.
“I would like to thank the community of Carroll County and all the surrounding communities for honoring my son, Christopher Todd Stout,” she said. “Truly I am so proud of him and I love him.”
Her parting request was for the public to continue to support those who continue the battle.
“Let us pray for our country together,” she said. “Let us unite together and pray for our soldiers.”