Comissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduating from Texas A&M, James Earl Rudder was a teacher and coach before he was called to active duty in 1941. He trained U.S. Army Rangers for one of D-Day's most dangerous operations: taking Pointe du Hoc. He led the mission to success, though over half his men were killed or wounded in the assault, and Rudder himself was shot in the leg. After the war, Rudder served as president of Texas A&M, where he supported optional membership in the Corps of Cadets and helped open the university to women, despite great opposition. More»

For additional reading, Humanities Texas published an excerpt from Thomas M. Hatfield's 2011 book Rudder: From Leader to Legend in our June 2011 e-newsletter. The excerpt details the Second Ranger Battalion's first night on Pointe du Hoc.

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Rudder at Pointe du Hoc
Rudder at Pointe du Hoc, mid-afternoon, June 7, 1944. "Don't lose this," he wrote to his wife. "It was taken by Maj. Jack Street and holds much history for me. I have enough equipment to weigh down a horse." Photo courtesy of Margaret Rudder, reprinted courtesy of Texas A&M University Press.