Tag Archives: World War II

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 – “An Uncommon Ability to Inspire Men and Lead Them to Exceptional Achievement”

Wednesday, June 05, 2019 – “An Uncommon Ability to Inspire Men and Lead Them to Exceptional Achievement.”

Watch the news and see those WWII soldiers who stormed the Beaches of Normandy. They are now in their 90’s and return to the beaches where many gave the greatest sacrifice. You will see them tear up as they remember that day. They were 18 and 19 years old. They saw their friends and buddys blown away in front of their eyes. They took bullets. They will tell you they were scared, but doing what had to be done.

We owe these brave men our gratitude, our respect and most of all our freedom. He is the story of one.

James Earl Rudder

May 6, 1910–March 23, 1970

The German army considered Pointe du Hoc a perfect spot for defending the coast of France from Allied forces during World War II. From atop its hundred-foot cliffs, German guns could reach both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The Germans thought their position was secure. And it was—until June 1944, when Texan James Earl Rudder and his Second Ranger Battalion began to climb those cliffs.

Rudder graduated from Texas A&M University in 1932 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves. He taught high school and college and coached football until 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.

During the assault, over half of Rudder’s men were killed or wounded, and Rudder himself was shot in the leg. But the high ground was seized, and the German guns were silenced.

After the war, Rudder continued to take on tough challenges. As president of Texas A&M, he supported optional membership in the Corps of Cadets and helped open the university to women, despite great opposition.

When he died in 1970, Rudder was celebrated for his courageous leadership in both war and peace. An inscription on Rudder Tower, located on the A&M campus, remembers Rudder’s “uncommon ability to inspire men and lead them to exceptional achievement.”

For More about James Earl Rudder

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

The James Earl Rudder Collection, 1918–2001, is held by Texas A&M University’s Cushing Library. The collection includes materials from Rudder’s time in the service during World War II, clippings from newspapers, posters, magazine issues, memorabilia, and Rudder’s awards.

In recognition of the significance of Rudder’s tenure as president of Texas A&M University, the university erected a sculpture of Rudder in 1993. The statue, which was designed by Lawrence M. Ludtke, was originally located in front of Bizzell Hall, but was moved in 2009 to stand at the south end of Military Walk.


James Earl Rudder’s Legacy Was Born 75 Years Ago At D-Day

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – Meet Corporal J. V. McClanahan, World War II Vet

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – Meet Corporal J. V. McClanahan, World War II Vet

You read about Doc Matthews and Mr. Ray Halliburton in previous posts.  Please meet my veteran, Mr. J. V. McClanahan.  On an Honor Flight each veteran is assigned an escort. I had the honor to escort J.V.

He turned 18 years old in October 1944. He, like all 18 year MEN of the time, was drafted into the United States Army. At the conclusion of basic training, he was sent oversees. His unit joined Patton’s Third Army as the Battle of the Bulge began. On March 2, 1945 J V was taken prisoner and spent the time until VE Day in May 1945 in a German POW camp.

    JV waving from bus (800x530)

When telling some stories, he noted the irony of his capture – Texas Independence Day.

Question “Did you ever try to escape?”

No, a couple of us thought about it and actually marched at the end of the line a couple of times when we were being moved around, but another fellow had tried and was beaten, so we decided not to try.

DRD JV at Pillar (800x530)

Lincoln from WWII (800x530)

The World War II Memorial sits between The Lincoln Memorial and The Washington Monument. The three monuments symbolize Freedom, the Defense of it, and the Price paid for it


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One enters the WWII Memorial through the Pacific pillar because World War II for The United States began there. As I walked through the pillar I had a strange feeling as I looked down at my big NIKON camera around my neck and remembered I drive a Japanese made car.

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Upon entrance – to the right is The Freedom Wall.

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Teacher interviewing him with her IPAD.

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General Richard Stone, one of many generals who lined up to shake the hands of the veterans.

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Question “Do you ever think about “things” you saw?”

Not much any more, but all of the things you ever heard happened and I did see some of them.  I just remember how cold it was. I will never forget that. On cold days it takes me back to the time. 

After his return he became a plumber. And not just the household variety. He retired as Manager of Plumbing at M.D. Anderson in Houston.

Question – Did that mean you oversaw all of the waste disposal from the hospital?

Yes, I sometimes had to supervise waste disposal from the operating rooms. Not your ordinary flush (laughing).

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Because of his POW status J. V. was one of the first to return to The United States. He returned on the Queen Mary. Upon his return married Thelma, pictured with him here. They still live in Luling, Texas where they help care for their two great-great-grandchildren.

J. V. and I talk on the phone about once a month.  I have not seen he or Thelma in about a year.  Thelma makes a chocolate chip cookie that rivals my Mother’s.  In fact, Thelma makes the best desserts I have ever tasted. I see a trip to Luling in the near future.

In the winter months I don’t think about being cold much anymore.  I have a warm coat and the freedom to wear it wherever I want to because J.V. McClanahan, Ray Halliburton and thousands more like them sacrificed so I could.  Thank you.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – Memorial Day and More Stories from The Greatest Generation

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 – Memorial Day and More Stories from The Greatest Generation

1915  – The 100the anniversary of the start of World War I. (The triggering event (no pun intended) took place the previous year, but actual declarations and opening shots began in 1915).

1945 – May 16 – VE – Day – The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

1975 – April 30 – The 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.

Between today and Friday I will be posting some Memorial Day posts about some heroes from The Greatest Generation and My Generation.

You met Lt. Colonel Tom Matthews, Fighting Texas Aggie Class of ’51 on May 12. Dr. Matthew is on the left. Today, please met Mr. Ray Halliburton. And yes, Mr. Halliburton is a relative of those Halliburtons (Google them).  Mr. Ray is in the middle. Tomorrow you will meet the man on the right.

Matthews, Halliburton and McC

Mr. Ray still lives in Lulling, Texas, but I understand his health is deteriorating rapidly.  He, like all of the other WWII vets, speak to the urgency to get WWII Vets to see the THEIR Memorial through Honor Flights. Here are some photos with a bit of Mr. Ray’s history.


He served in General George Patton’s Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge.  He was 19 years old. In December 1944 in the Ardennes the Third Army frustrated the German counteroffensive as it swept into Germany and into Czechoslovakia. Mr. Halliburton was taken prison in Germany and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp.

He returned to Lulling where he farmed and raised a family.  He had never been to Washington D.C. until the Honor Flight. I love the expression on his face.

Mr. Ray with U.S. Senator John Coryn from Texas.    However, everyone who saw the second photo said, “Now that is more like what Mr. Ray would be doing. Telling the Senator what he thinks about things.” Notice Senator Coryn seems to be taking in all in.

066067137 Here he is with Robyn, his escort at the Iwo Jima statue. For you Marines out there, he said “Never would have made it without the Marines.”


Students and teachers (and everybody else who saw the veterans) swarmed them like rock stars.  Here is Ray and another veteran answering questions.

Tomorrow you will meet the soldier I had the honor of being with on the Honor Flight.

Remember,  these and all the other brave individuals are why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 – The Oldest Living World War II Veteran

Did you know the oldest living World War II veteran is 109 year old Richard Overton? And he lives in Austin, Texas. Mr. Overton served in the all-black 1887th Aviation Engineer Battalion from 1942 until 1945. Unfortunately, I only know Mr. Overton via the news.

Did you know that World War II veterans are passing away at a rate of almost 900 PER DAY?

With Memorial Day approaching, I think about all who serve and sacrifice.  Notice the present tense is intentional.

If I were to die today, I would be proud to say that I knew Major Thomas W. Matthews. You will hear more about him and two others from World War II in the coming days.  Lieutenant Matthews was a pilot.  After the war ended, 70 years ago this month, he went to the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College in College Station and became a veterinarian.  He practiced until he was in his late 80’s. He rose the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Air Force Reserves.

Here is a photo of Dr. Matthews and me at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

Dr. Mathews and Duffey

It was taken on the maiden Honor Flight from Austin, June 2012 taking veterans to visit their World War II Memorial. This photo was in the Texas Aggie magazine of March/April 2013. It was said that Dr. Matthews showed the picture to any and all at every VFW meeting and anyone who would stop and listen. I heard he carried the magazine with him at all times. Dr. Matthews passed away at age 90 July 15, 2013, shortly after the magazine came out.

What can you say you have done for a World War II veteran, Purple Heart recipient and hero?

You can read about Dr. Tom and his life at http://www.purpleheartaustin.org/matthews.htm

Joseph Heller’s book, Catch 22, is based on the airmen stationed in Corsica with then, Lt. Matthews.

If nothing else, remember all who served and pray for all who continue to protect us and keep freedom for us. If you see a soldier today, pat them on the back and say “Thank you.” They are indeed, The Greatest Generation.