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Joseph Allard Rude

No. 2006323 January 1931 - 12 July 1975

Died: Valdosta, Georgia

Interred: Sunset Lawn Cemetery, Harrisburg, Illinois

Joseph Allard Rude was born on 23 Jan 1931, in Harrisburg, IL, to COL (U.S. Army Air Corps, Retired) and Mrs. Carl W. Rude. Jodie, as he was called, attended Harrisburg public schools through the 12th grade and played first string center for the Harrisburg Bulldogs, who won the South Seven Championship his senior year. That was a big deal at his house, and many nights, after the games, the whole, hungry team ate at the Rudes’ home. Jodie was a good swimmer and a lifeguard at the local pool. He was also the protector of his little sister Linda in a neighborhood of boys. He was fortunate enough to have a car, a Crosley convertible with no top and a wired-on passenger door, that was a favorite of his friends and sister. As a chip off the old block, he had a passion for airplanes. His Christmas lists always included Testors’ model airplane glue, small bottles of paint, balsa wood, engines, and so forth. Some of his model planes were displayed in a military museum. In preparation for West Point the year after high school, he attended Sullivan’s Preparatory School.


Jodie entered West Point with the Class of 1954 in July of 1950. As was the custom, he changed roommates several times during Plebe year. His roommates remember him as the right tonic to help them get through the trials of that hectic year. He was very humorous—a laugh a minute. The humorous twists had his roommates still falling out of their chairs at reunions 50 years later. He also interacted with his family during the West Point years. Once his dad came to West Point for a visit and rented a chauffeured limousine for the occasion. In less than an hour, Jodie had two ladies from Vassar in the back seat with him, taking them on a sight-seeing tour. He always remembered his little sister, who loved him very much. During Yearling year Christmas leave, he took home a bottle of Chanel #5 for her. His reputation as a great guy is seconded by his classmates, for Jodie was kind to all and had only good things to say about everyone. A significant note is that he thought good vision would be more important to his future than a good academic standing, so he spent more time in the sack while his text books collected dust. It worked out well, since he joined the Air Force after graduation.


Jodie married the love of his life, Ann White, in June 1954 in Eldorado, IL. Ann had been his sweetheart in high school, and they married right after he graduated from West Point. She enjoyed her life as the wife of an Air Force officer, and she always was ready for their next move. As Jodie had always envisioned, he soon earned his pilot’s wings. During an early tour in the Midwest, flying an air defense mission, he had to eject out of his F-86D. Soon thereafter he, with family, was assigned to a Military Assistance Advisory Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their next tour was at Laughlin AFB, teaching young pilots to fly jets. This was a great family tour. According to one of his closest friends, there were many good times, and Jodie and Ann were great friends and parents. He never lost his love of fishing, doing a lot of bass fishing in the Devil’s River and the Rio Grande. Back in Illinois, Jodie and a friend went on the best fishing trip ever. They threw back the small ones and wound up with their limit of bass over five pounds.


Jodie then volunteered for Southeast Asia and was assigned to Nakhon Phanom Air Base in Thailand, flying a variety of combat sorties, during which his unit—thanks to Jodie and his air comrades—was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. When he returned to Moody AFB in Valdosta, GA, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross and eight Air Medals for his service in Southeast Asia. The Distinguished Flying Cross is very special; it is awarded to someone who has distinguished himself/herself in actual combat in support of operations by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. As a recipient, he joined such heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Richard Byrd, and Amelia Earhart.


While at Moody, Jodie decided to retire, doing so in 1974. At Valdosta, Jodie went into real estate sales. Unfortunately, Jodie did not have a long retirement. He died of a massive heart attack in 1975. He was survived by his wife Ann and two children, Carl and Karen Lynn. Tragically, both children died in the late 1970’s. His wife later remarried but died of a heart attack in 2006.


Jodie was always proud of his dad’s service to his country,  and he became enthralled with planes and flying at an early age. He then lived his life’s dream to become an Air Force combat pilot and leader. His record lives up to his dreams. One of Jodie’s Air Force friends and subordinates, who later became a senior commander, had this to say about him, “Jodie was a true professional—pilot, superior role model—and a genuinely compassionate gentleman. In my twenty-six  and a half years of service, I often measured men and women under my command against the standards I know Jodie set and met. The USMA Class of 1954 has much to be proud of in Joseph A. Rude.”


—His sister, company classmates,

and Air Force friends

Originally published in TAPS, Fall/Winter 2010

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