James Earl Rudder

James Earl Rudder (May 6, 1910 – March 23, 1970) was a United States Army Major General, Texas Land Commissioner, and President of Texas A&M University.

Rudder was born on May 6, 1910, at Eden, Texas, the son of Dee Forest and Annie (Powell) Rudder. He attended John Tarleton Agricultural College in 1928-29. He went to Texas A&M in 1930 and graduated in 1932 with a degree in industrial education. After graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry in the United States Army Reserves. In 1933 Rudder worked as a football coach and teacher at Brady High School. He married Margaret E. Williamson (b. 1916, d. March 4, 2004) on June 12, 1937. They had five children: James Earl "Bud" Rudder, Jr., Jane Rudder Roach (d. 1984), Robert Dee Rudder, Anne Rudder Erdman, and Linda Rudder Williams. In 1938 he worked as a football coach and teacher at Tarleton Agricultural College. He was called into active duty in 1941.

Military career

Rudder was the hero of D-Day as Commander of the United States Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion. His U.S. Army Rangers stormed the beach at Pointe du Hoc and, under constant enemy fire, scaled 100-foot cliffs to reach and destroy German gun batteries. The battalion's casualty rate for this perilous mission was greater than 50 percent. Rudder himself was wounded twice during the course of the fighting. In spite of this, they dug in and fought off German counter-attacks for two days until relieved. He and his men helped to successfully establish a beachhead for the Allied forces.

Six months later, Rudder was assigned to command the 109th Infantry Regiment, which saw key service in the Battle of the Bulge. Rudder became one of the most decorated soldiers of the war, with honors that included the Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, French Legion of Honor with Croix de Guerre and Palm, and Belgian Order of Leopold with Croix de Guerre and Palm. By the end of the war, he was a full Colonel and was promoted to Brigadier General of the United States Army Reserves in 1954 and Major General in 1957.

The Politician & Educator

Rudder served as mayor of Brady, Texas, from 1946 to 1952 and was vice president of Brady Aviation Company in 1953. On January 1, 1955, he assumed the office of state Land Commissioner after the abandonment of the position by James Bascom Giles. At that time the Veterans Land Program was under scrutiny for mismanagement and corruption. Rudder undertook the task of reforming policies, expediting land applications, and closely supervising proper accounting procedures. He also oversaw the proper leasing of state lands by employing more field inspectors for oil and gas sites and adding a seismic exploration staff. In addition, he improved working conditions for his staff and instigated a program to preserve the many deteriorating General Land Office documents.

On the strength of his many reforms, Rudder won the election for land commissioner in 1956 and served until February 1, 1958. That year, he became vice president of Texas A&M University. Rudder became president in 1959 and president of the entire A&M System in 1965 until his death in 1970. In 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest peacetime service award. Since his death in 1970, an annual service has been held in Normandy, France, in his honor.

While President of Texas A&M, Rudder is credited for transforming the University from a small land-grant college to a renowned university. Specifically, he made membership in the Corps of Cadets optional and allowed women to attend. There are many reminders of Rudder on campus, including Rudder Tower, next to the Memorial Student Center, and a statue. Additionally, a special training unit within the Corps of Cadets known as " [http://www.tamuarmyrotc.com/rudders.htm Rudder's Rangers] " is named in his honor. Cadets within the Corps of Cadets at A&M are expected to be able to recite an excerpt from the inscription on Rudder tower, a "Campusology" that reads:

cquote|In memory of James Earl Rudder, 1910-1970, Class of 1932, Heroic Soldier. Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas … Sixteenth President of Texas A&M University … Third President of the Texas A&M University System.Earl Rudder was the architect of the dream that produced this center. In this, as in all he did, he demonstrated an uncommon ability to inspire men and lead them to exceptional achievement.

Tributes

*Earl Rudder Freeway — the portion of Highway 6 that runs through Bryan and College Station, Texas.
*Earl Rudder Middle School — a middle school in San Antonio, Texas; home of the Rudder Rangers
*James Earl Rudder High School — the second high school, currently being built, of the Bryan Independent School District in Bryan, Texas. Rudder High is slated to open in August 2008.
*James E. Rudder State Office Building — Main public office of the Texas Secretary of State, 1019 Brazos St., Austin, Texas 78701
*J. Earl Rudder Tower & Conference Center — 12 story building on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

ee also

References

* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tamucush/00135/00135-P.html James Earl Rudder Papers] - Texas A&M's Cushing Memorial Library Online
* [http://www.sproe.com/s/2nd-ranger.html 2nd Ranger Battalion] - How Much Of It Is Real? The Saving Private Ryan Online Encyclopedia
* [http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/RR/fru6.html] Texas Handbook biography of James Earl Rudder

Further reading

*Rudder's Rangers by Ronald L. Lane ISBN 0-934588-00-7
*D-Day by Stephen E. Ambrose ISBN 0-671-67334-3
*Rangers in World War II by Robert W. Black ISBN 0-8041-0565-0
*The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc by Douglas Brinkley ISBN 0-06-056527-6


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