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Donald Rudolph; at 85 decorated WWII hero

BOVEY, Minn. -- Donald E. Rudolph Sr., who received a Medal of Honor for bravery for destroying two Japanese machine-gun positions during World War II, has died. He was 85.

Mr. Rudolph died Thursday of complications from Alzheimer's disease, said Marvin Ott, an Itasca County Veterans Services officer who spoke with Rudolph's wife, Helen, on Friday. Mr. Rudolph had been ill for several years.

President Truman presented Mr. Rudolph with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, on Aug. 23, 1945.

On Feb. 5 of that year, the young Army sergeant crossed a battlefield on Luzon Island in the northern Philippines alone, protecting himself with grenades, when the company that was supposed to be supporting his unit was pinned down.

He destroyed two Japanese pillboxes before attacking and neutralizing six others.

Then, when his unit came under fire from a tank, he climbed onto the tank 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 Philippine campaign."

Mr. Rudolph, who was struck by shrapnel, was promoted to second lieutenant.

As a recipient of the medal, Mr. Rudolph and his wife attended several presidential inaugurations.

Over the years he Mr. Rudolph met Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.

After retiring from the Army in 1963, Mr. Rudolph worked for the Veterans Administration as a veterans benefit counselor until he retired in 1976.

Mr. Rudolph leaves his wife, a son, and three grandchildren.

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