Plaque Honors the Memory of Charles Rubado ’04

Oct 31, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications editor

What Florida National Guard Capt. Keith Mahler remembers about his classmate and fellow ROTC Mocs Battalion cadet Charlie Rubado was how level-headed he was.

“He didn’t get too worked up about much. He was always a guy you could go to if you had questions,” he said. “He always put others first. He was definitely a stand-up guy.”

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Charles Rubado ’04, who was killed in action in August 2005 near Tal Afar, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, has had a place of honor on the Florida Southern campus since his death. Now he has a place of honor in the community as well.

A plaque commemorating Lt. Rubado was unveiled during a ceremony at the Citrus Connection bus shelter nearest campus on Oct. 30, at the intersection of South Florida and Cresap avenues. The plaque was placed on the shelter at the initiative of the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Assembly No. 54 in Lakeland, which is honoring veterans by putting up similar plaques at bus shelters across Polk County.

President Anne Kerr and Mocs Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Scott La Ronde were among the speakers at the ceremony. President Kerr said that Lt. Rubado exemplified the highest ideals of the College.

“We are so proud of him …. His legacy lives on, and he has set a fine example for all of the students who are in ROTC and who choose careers in the armed services to follow. We honor his sacrifice, and he will always be an important part of the College’s history,” she said.

Lt. Col. LaRonde said that although he did not know Lt. Rubado, he remembers him through the stories told by those who did.

“My hope is that this dedication serves to inspire future generations not only to honor Lt. Rubado but to remember him,” he said. “He was known as a calm and cool leader within the program. … He was well-liked by his classmates within ROTC and his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha.”

Rubado served as a platoon leader in the Army’s Third Armored Cavalry Regiment and was killed while serving on a tank crew. He had followed his father, retired 1st Sgt. Charles Rubado into the Army, and 1st Sgt. Rubado spoke at the dedication ceremony, thanking the Knights of Columbus and College officials for continuing to honor his son. In an interview later, 1st Sgt. Rubado said Charles fell in love with Florida Southern right away.

“He certainly did very well in the (ROTC) program. His fondest memory was running people around Lake Hollingsworth, because he was in great shape,” he said with a laugh. “He loved this city and the college. I come to every commissioning ceremony at the college to honor his memory.”

Of the plaque dedication, Capt. Mahler said, “It’s really good. It kind of brings awareness to the rest of the community who may not know who he was and what he’s done for the country.”