Colton Rusk Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was established in memory of Lance Corporal Colton Rusk. On Colton’s 20th birthday day, September 23,2010, he was deployed as a Marine dog handler to Afghanistan, where he and his dog Eli walked at the head of patrols, identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Less than three months later, Colton was killed by enemy gunfire while on patrol. This scholarship is eligible to third and fourth year Veterinary Technology students. Students must be from rural South Texas and have a 3.0 minimum GPA. Preference will be given to military.

Visit Javelina Scholarships to apply for this opportunity.


A Message From LCpl Colton Rusk's Family

My words of thanks always seem to never be enough. Please know that the scholarship in memory of our son LCpl Colton Rusk means so much to me and my family.


The biggest fear as parents is losing a child. We have had to face that fear and now our fear is that our child will die twice. Once when his heart stopped beating and again when the life he lived is forgotten. The scholarship in memory of our son LCpl Colton Rusk will ensure that our son and his sacrifice will never be forgotten and for this we are forever grateful. May this scholarship and the story of Colton's life inspire others to never take a day for granted and to always live their life like someone worth fighting and dying for.


Colton had a promise to us. He told us "I will go to college, I just have to do this first, my way". He had been called at a young age to serve his country. As a mother, I saw this in him, but chose to ignore it in hopes of him out growing his calling.


Colton asked to join the United States Marine Corps at the age of 17. It was the summer before he would start his senior year of high school. I will never forget going with him to talk the recruiter. (After him begging me forever)

I walked into the recruiters office expecting a young kid not knowing what to say, and to my amazement, I walked out with a young man that answered every question asked of him with clarity, honor, and ambition. It still amazes me how Colton at the age of 17 knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. (I am 48 and still have not figured it out)
Colton signed into the Delayed Entry Program of the USMC on June 16, 2008. 4 days later on June 20, 2008, while we were celebrating Colton's younger brother's birthday, we got the call that my best friends son had been hit by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. This was devastating to us. Not only was this my best friends son (like another son to me) but he was also the best friend to my boys Cody and Colton. (like their brother) We spent that entire day and night not knowing if Justin would live or die. Justin would live, but with the amputation of both legs.


I remember sitting Colton down and telling him that this is real! War is real! Colton would spend the entire summer that year of 2008 by Justin's side at Brooks Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio Tx. Colton saw many faces of war that year. From amputees to those that were badly burned. He came home with even more desire to serve his country and to fight for those who no longer could.


After that summer, Colton went on to finish his senior year of high school. In that year, he was voted senior class favorite, Mr. OGHS, Prom King. He was also chosen for the Lupe Ochoa sportsmanship award, along with awards in football and baseball. Colton graduated high school in June of 2009.

Colton accomplished his goal of becoming a United States Marine on January 29, 2010, when he graduated from bootcamp. He continued on to complete the training of Infantry Machine Gunner in April 2010. Shortly after completing this training, he was chosen to become a dog handler. Colton was so excited when he was chosen for this duty. I still remember the call I received from him and his excitement and of course my fear. I knew Colton being a dog handler would put him out in front and in harms way. I expressed my fear to Colton, in which his response was "I'll be fine Mom".

Colton was sent to South Carolina to the American K-9 Interdiction Training Facility. He met Eli and they became an instant team. I will never forget the pictures that started coming my way. I knew that Colton and Eli were training for war and that it was a serious job, but the pictures I was seeing were simply pictures of my baby boy and a dog that I knew he already loved with all of his heart.

Colton graduated from the American K-9 Interdiction as a Certified Explosives Detector Dog Handler on June 18, 2010.


After intense desert training, the time had come. I knew the training they had been doing was about to be put to use. Colton and Eli would be deploying.

September 23rd. Of all days for the Marines to chose to deploy our son. This was Colton's 20th birthday. This was the day God gave him to us. This was the first day we held him in our arms. This would be the last day we ever hugged him or touched him.

I will never forget the last call for them to say their goodbyes to their families. I didn't want to hug him too long or too tight, I didn't want to cry. I wanted to be strong for him. I told myself that I would see him again so it was no big deal. We watched as he and Eli walked to the bus.

I will never forget the look in my sons eyes that day. A look of excitement, of courage and of fear of the unknown. That look in his eyes the day he walked away not knowing if he would ever return, will forever live in my heart. What strength and courage our son had.

Colton's Battalion was hit hard in the early days of arriving in Afghanistan. Getting the recorded messages that they had casualties and would not be able to be in contact for a while was gut wrenching.

Hearing Colton's voice a month later and knowing he was ok allowed us to breathe again for the moment. Another month passed without word from Colton we knew they were in a bad place again. Again we got a call. It was an early Sunday morning. Colton sounded great! He told me they were moving to a safer place and that they would have access to more phone time. He told me not to worry and to not watch the news. He said he would call us the next day and give us addresses of the other guys so we could send all the packages that our community had put together for them.

That tomorrow never came.


Monday Morning, December 6, 2010 started like every day. Work and school. I had just gotten to work when my phone rang. They asked if I was at home. I told them no I was at work. They asked if anyone was at the house. I told them no. The whole time not breathing because in my heart I already knew something was wrong. I just asked them to please tell me if Colton was ok. They just told me I needed to come home. I just remember not ever wanting to go back home. I knew what was going to be there waiting for me. Not my son. My life as we knew it was over. Our world stopped spinning that day.

While on a mission, their caravan hit an IED. Colton and Eli were sent on patrol to search and make sure there were no other IED's. Colton was shot by a sniper when their unit came under attack and lost his life. Eli was not injured and remained by Colton's side.

In February 2011 Eli was flown back to the United States to Lackland Air Force Base, where we were allowed to adopt him. He now lives with us and is spoiled rotten. Having Eli has given us so much comfort. He is a part of our family. As Colton said "What's mine is also his".

Colton loved life. He lived life. He was living his dream and he was doing what he felt he was
called to do. He is and will always be my HERO.

Today, we as Colton's family choose to live our lives to Honor him. We choose to tell his story in Hopes that people will truly understand the sacrifices that our military men and women have made, and continue to make each and everyday in order for us to live our lives in Freedom.

Colton's motto that he chose to have under his senior picture in the year book reads

Don't be Afraid to go after your Hopes and Dreams,
But don't be Afraid to be Willing to Pay the Price.

Colton went after his Hopes and Dreams, He was never afraid, and he was willing to pay the
price. The price of our FREEDOM. May he forever be remembered and forvever be loved until we meet again.

Love,
The Forever Proud Family of LCpl Colton W. Rusk
Darrell, Kathy, Cody, Brady & Eli

This page was last updated on: March 1, 2017