As a member of the U.S. Army, Norman Rudenick spent a lot of time walking from place to place. So, when trucks would roll in to take soldiers where they needed to go it was a treat. Rudenick is going to be treated to a ride this coming Friday night, he won’t have to take one step, as he moves through the Women of Today community parade in Redwood Falls. The Women of Today named Rudenick as the parade grand marshal, and they are honoring him because of his service as a member of the U.S. military during World War II. Rudenick, who grew up in the Wabasso area, was drafted into the U.S. Army and received his basic training at Camp Wolters in Texas. There he began learning the finer points of being in the Infantry. Rudenick would train as a machine gunner. Rudenick, who began his stint in the Army in August 1942, left Redwood County on a bus headed for Fort Snelling with a number of other Redwood County residents. There he passed his physical and then was able to return home before heading south to Texas for 10 weeks. From Texas, Rudenick traveled west to California for additional training, and there he began the trek that would lead him to other locations, such as West Virginia, Alabama and New York on his way across the Atlantic Ocean. Rudenick was assigned to C Company, 137th Infantry, 35th Division. He said the division was based in Kansas, and the wagon wheel patch he has amongst his military medals represented that division. Rudenick said he traveled across the ocean and landed in England. “When we were more than halfway there we were fired on,” he said, adding that meant he and the other troops were forced below decks. On the shores of England Rudenick had more training before he crossed the English Channel in the second wave approaching Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day invasion. As a machine gunner and section leader, Rudenick had other men with him who helped him carry what he described as a pretty heavy machine gun, its tripod and the ammunition for the 30 caliber weapon. In addition to the machine gun, Rudenick had a carbine rifle and a pistol, and that means having to carry ammunition for those weapons, too. Rudenick and his men got to see the French countryside, but he said it was slow going as they constantly encountered German soldiers. Rudenick and his men moved into Germany and there during a skirmish he and others were separated from the rest, and soon after Rudenick was declared missing in action. Rudenick had been taken captive by the Germans November 23, 1944, which was Thanksgiving Day, and he spent time in prisoner of war camps until May 8, 1945. He recalled eating lots of rutabagas and Limburger cheese, adding when the camp he was at was freed he weighed just 99 pounds. Rudenick recalled his trip back across the Atlantic Ocean in a cattle ship. “You would think they would have had something a little better for us,” he said. That ship’s prop went out five miles from New York and another ship had to come out and tow them to the harbor. Rudenick has a number of medals, including the Purple Heart for three injuries, he received during his service. He also received the Bronze Star. Rudenick said he is proud to have served and is glad he is being recognized by the community he has been a part as its parade grand marshal.
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