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Rudder's Rangers

 

 

James Earl Rudder: 2nd Ranger Battalion Commander: Click here to go to 2nd Bn History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D-Day  2nd Ranger Commander

(May 6, 1910 – March 23, 1970)

 

Rudder was born in Eden, Texas into a family with five other brothers to Annie Powell and Dee Forest Rudder, a farmer and operator of a livestock commission firm.

 

After graduating from the Eden High School in 1927, he went first to the John Tarleton Agricultural College and then to Texas A & M where he studied industrial education and also played football.  In 1932 he graduated with a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves and a Bachelor of Science degree.

 

He accepted a football coach and teacher position with the Brady High School in 1933, and there met and married Margaret Williamson – a University of Texas graduate.  In 1938, Rudder transferred his football coaching skills back to his first college, Tarleton Agricultural College where he remained until he was called to Active Duty in 1941.

 

Rudder started his active duty military career at nearby Fort Sam Houston as an Infantry Company Commander, and then moved to Battalion Executive Officer with the 83rd Infantry Division at Camp Atterbury, IN. 

 

In June 1943, Rudder was given the assignment to organize and train the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Camp Forrest, TN.  He became the “hero of D-Day as Commander of the United States Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion.”1  Rudder’s Rangers assaulted the beaches at Pointe du Hoc, climbed the 100-foot cliffs, destroyed the German gun batteries which threatened the entire US invasion force from Omaha to Utah beaches, and fought off German counter-attacks for two days until relieved.  Their success did not come easily - the battalion’s casualty rate was higher than 50% and Rudder himself was wounded twice. 

 

In December 1944, Rudder was assigned command of the 109th Infantry Regiment.  Rudder was “one of the most decorated soldiers of the war”.1  He was a full Colonel by the end of World War II, a Brigadier General in the Reserves in 1954, and a Major General in the Reserves in 1957.  He retired from the US Army Reserves in 1967 after 35 years of Army service.

 

Rudder returned to civilian life as a leader becoming mayor of Brady, Texas in 1946 and staying in that position until 1952.  He was President of the Brady Aviation Company in 1953, and then assumed the office of Land Commissioner in 1955.  He served in this position until 1958 when he became Vice President of the Texas A & M University.  He was promoted to President in 1959, and then President of the entire

Texas A & M system in 1965.  His civilian and military memberships and awards, too numerous to list, are capped by the Distinguished Service Medal presented by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, and the annual memorial service held at Normandy, France in his honor.

 1Material and photographs for this article were taken from Rudder’s Rangers by Ronald Lane, The Battalion by Col. Robert W. Black, and the Wikipedia web site.  The Ranger diamond patch is an original patch from Ranger James H. Hudnell, D Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion.