Donald Eugene Rudolph was born in South Haven, Minnesota on February 21, 1921. He fought as a member of the United States Army‘s 6th Infantry Division against the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II.
On February 5, 1945, then-Technical Sergeant Rudolph was an acting platoon leader in the 6th Division’s Company E, 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Luzon in the Philippines. On that day near Munoz, Rudolph single-handedly eliminated two Japanese pillboxes and took out an enemy tank by climbing atop it and throwing a grenade through one of the hatches. He was later commissioned as an officer and received the Medal of Honor for his heroism soon after the Japanese surrender.
RUDOLPH, DONALD E.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company E, 20th Infantry, 6th Infantry Division. Place and date: Munoz, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 5 February 1945
Entered service at: Minneapolis, Minn. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945
Citation: 2d Lt. Rudolph (then T/Sgt.) was acting as platoon leader at Munoz, Luzon, Philippine Islands. While administering first aid on the battlefield, he observed enemy fire issuing from a nearby culvert. Crawling to the culvert with rifle and grenades, he killed 3 of the enemy concealed there. He then worked his way across open terrain toward a line of enemy pillboxes which had immobilized his company. Nearing the first pillbox, he hurled a grenade through its embrasure and charged the position. With his bare hands he tore away the wood and tin covering, then dropped a grenade through the opening, killing the enemy gunners and destroying their machinegun. Ordering several riflemen to cover his further advance, 2d Lt. Rudolph seized a pick mattock and made his way to the second pillbox. Piercing its top with the mattock, he dropped a grenade through the hole, fired several rounds from his rifle into it and smothered any surviving enemy by sealing the hole and the embrasure with earth. In quick succession he attacked and neutralized 6 more pillboxes. Later, when his platoon was attacked by an enemy tank, he advanced under covering fire, climbed to the top of the tank and dropped a white phosphorus grenade through the turret, destroying the crew. Through his outstanding heroism, superb courage, and leadership, and complete disregard for his own safety, 2d Lt. Rudolph cleared a path for an advance which culminated in one of the most decisive victories of the Philippine campaign.
Rudolph remained in the Army Reserves after the war, retiring in 1963. He also worked for many years in the Veterans Administration. Rudolph passed away as a result of Alzheimer’s Disease on May 25, 2006 and was laid to rest with full military honors in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry and the 6th Infantry Division are both presently inactive.