Rudder's Rangers fight with distinction on Normandy beaches
On this day in 1944, D-day, James Earl Rudder commanded the Second Ranger Battalion as it achieved one of the great feats of arms of the Normandy invasion. Rudder, a native of Eden, Texas, had served in the army in the 1930s and was recalled to duty during World War II. He became commander and trainer of the elite Second Ranger Battalion in 1943. On D-day Rudder's 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 suffered higher than 50 percent casualties, and Rudder himself was wounded twice. In spite of this, he and his men helped establish a beachhead for the Allied forces. In later life Rudder became president of Texas A&M. In 1967 he received the Distinguished Service Medal from President Lyndon Johnson.