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Texas Legends are often thought of as local characters, but James Earl Rudder (Texas A&M ’32) is a name that is known internationally as the “Hero of D-Day.” The commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion led his “Rudder’s Rangers” on an assault of German entrenchments high on the cliffs of Pointe de Hoc in Normandy, France during the D-Day invasion. Although taking heavy enemy fire, he inspired his men to scale the perilous cliff with him, as their successful mission would be crucial in establishing a beachhead for the Allied forces that would liberate France. As a result of Rudder’s leadership and bravery, he became one of the most decorated soldiers of the war, receiving honors such as the Silver and Bronze Stars, Distinguished Service Cross, and Legion of Merit. After the war, he began a long career of public service, serving as Mayor of Brady, Texas Land Commissioner, Vice President and then President of Texas A&M University, and finally President of the entire Texas A&M System. Rudder is credited with transforming a small college to an outstanding university during his tenure, which included optional membership in the Corps of Cadets and inclusion of women into the student body.