AGGIE PRESIDENT LED DANGEROUS D-DAY MISSION

By Bartee Haile

The most dangerous assignment of the Normandy invasion, climbing the cliffs at Point du Hoc and knocking out a German artillery battery, went to Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder on Jun. 6, 1944.

The D-Day daredevil was born and raised in Eden, not the biblical paradise but a small ranching community between San Angelo and Brady. Rudder left home in 1927 with high-school diploma in hand to attend John Tarleton Agricultural College at Stephenville.

The serious student soon discovered that the meager income from two part-time jobs could not cover the cost of a college education. He sought the advice of his football coach, who asked the local Lion’s Club for help. The civic group loaned the hardship case a cow that he grazed on the gridiron and milked for enough money to stay in school. In 1930 Rudder transferred to Texas A&M, where he earned a degree in industrial education, a lieutenant’s commission in the Army Reserve and a letter in football. But jobs were scarcer than hen’s teeth in 1932, and the college graduate spent the summer digging ditches for 25 cents an hour.

 

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