June 26, 2006
Dassel Legion recognizes Medal of Honor recipient
By Kristen Miller
A ceremony to honor of the late Donald Rudolph, Medal of Honor recipient and former Dassel resident, took place last Tuesday at the Dassel Veterans Memorial in Breeds Park.
Family, friends and spectators gathered as Ken Skalberg and the Dassel Legion Post 364 recognized Rudolph’s “outstanding,” service to the nation during World War II, with a stone paver and a wreath in his honor.
Skalberg explained that even though Rudolph was known to be a gentleman, he must have felt a calling at that moment.
Among the 175 pavers already in place at the memorial, none have received the Medal of Honor, the highest medal of recognition for service.
Rudolph was born in South Haven and was the grandson of Olaf Anderson, formerly of Dassel, and the nephew of Bus Anderson also of Dassel. Rudolph attended first grade at Dassel Elementary and helped his uncle during the summers at the Dassel grocery store, once owned by Bus Anderson.
Along with the Medal of Honor, Rudolph received a bronze star for heroism and an oak leaf cluster purple heart for being wounded twice.
He received the high honor for his work fighting as a platoon leader against the Japanese in Munoz, Luzon in the Philippines in February of 1945.
Alone, he destroyed eight enemy pillboxes, which are cement fortresses that hold one to three men.
When his platoon had been attacked afterwards by an enemy tank, he climbed it and dropped a grenade in its turret.
According to the citation, Rudolph, “killed three Japanese soldiers in the culvert, then worked his way across open ground and attacked pillboxes housing machine guns. He hurled a grenade through an opening in the first pillbox, tore away the wood and tin covering with his bare hands, and dropped another grenade inside. He then used a pickax to pierce a second pillbox, which he took out with rifle fire and a grenade. He destroyed six more pillboxes, and when his platoon was attacked by a Japanese tank, he climbed to its top and dropped a white phosphorus grenade through the turret, killing the crew.”
According to the US Army Center of Military History, “Rudolph cleared a path for an advance which culminated in one of the most decisive victories of the Philippines campaign.”
Rudolph wrote in his six series article in the Minneapolis Tribune that standing in front of Truman receiving the award was more difficult than fighting in Munoz. As he was awarded with the Medal of Honor, President Truman said to him, “I would rather be recipient of the medal than be the president of the United States.”
The Dassel Dispatch reported the news of Rudolph receiving the award in the Aug. 30, 1945 edition in an article titled “Received Nation’s Highest Award...Impressive Ceremony held in the east room of the White House.”
Rudolph, during his life after receiving the Medal of Honor, has shaken hands of seven presidents at several inaugurations. They were Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, according to an official publication from the National Association of the 6th Infantry Division, in which Rudolph formerly served.
Rudolph and his wife Helen moved to Bovey, near Grand Rapids in 1976 after retiring as a veterans benefit counselor.
He passed away at the age of 85 May 25, 2006. He was buried with full military honors, May 31, at Fort Snelling National cemetery.