The late James Earl Rudder ’32 – Major General, United States Army
The late Maj. Gen. James Earl Rudder ’32, who served as Texas A&M University’s 16th president, is renowned for his heroism in the war. His son, James E. Rudder Jr. ’62, spoke on behalf of his father and his service:
“Before being called to duty, dad was a football coach and teacher at Brady High School in Brady, Texas. In 1938, he became Tarleton College’s football coach, where he had played as center. Called to duty in 1942, he trained the U.S. 2nd Ranger Battalion in Tennessee as a major and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. On D-Day, he led his rangers and stormed the beach at Point du Hoc in France, scaling the 100-foot cliffs to overwhelm German forces. He fought his way across France and then took command of the 109th Infantry Regiment, part of the 28th division (Pennsylvania guard unit, commanded by Gen. Cota), only days before the Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the war, he was one of the most decorated soldiers.
“He would have attributed his life experience to playing football, coaching and the military, which laid the foundation for his leadership skills,” Rudder Jr. continued. “Though he never said as much, he was most proud with the training of his ranger forces. Despite being under constant enemy fire and facing many casualties, they never gave up.” In a letter to a widow of one of his fallen rangers, Rudder eloquently stated the significance of a soldier’s sacrifice. “The people of America will realize what that Gold Star means to those who loved him and will resolve to keep America worthy of such men,” he wrote. “The surviving rangers will carry with them the example of his courage and will do their best to instill a like nobility in the hearts of generations to come.”
Not all entries in Texas A&M’s former student database contain accurate records for military service. If you have information about other living former students who served in World War II, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.