Algirdas Rudis, 81, Army officer, Department of Defense worker

October 09, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Algirdas M. Rudis, a career Army officer who retired as a lieutenant colonel, died of cancer Saturday at Bethesda Naval Hospital. The Kingsville resident was 81.

Colonel Rudis was born and raised in Worcester, Mass., the son of Lithuanian immigrants. He graduated from high school in Worcester and enlisted in the Army in 1942.

He served in Europe before becoming an anti-aircraft gunner aboard the USS Cristobal, an Army troop transport that also carried German prisoners of war.

"At one point, he noticed that one German prisoner was getting deferential treatment by the other prisoners, including always moving to the front of the chow line," said his son, A. Michael Rudis of Houston.

"In summoning the commanding officer of the German contingent, he found out that the prisoner was one of Hitler's elite SS guards and, from that point on, made sure that Hitler's representative received no further special favors while onboard a U.S. military vessel," he said.

Colonel Rudis remained in the Army after the end of World War II, and saw combat duty in Korea.

After the Korean War, he was in charge of an expedition to the Arctic that installed the Distant Early Warning, or DEW, line. The DEW line was a series of radar stations to protect the U.S. mainland from a Russian attack via the polar route.

Colonel Rudis was interviewed by Dave Garroway, host of NBC's Today show, for his work on the DEW line installation.

In 1962, he was named Army commanding officer for the Great Lakes and the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway. He retired from the Army in 1964.

As a civilian, he worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in Baltimore and Washington as an expert and consultant on military cargo shipping and material support. He retired a second time in 1985.

In 1948, he married Josephine Tacchetti, who died in 1985.

A resident of Kingsville for 25 years, he enjoyed reading about World War II, golfing and was an active member of Seven Oaks Senior Center in Perry Hall.

Colonel Rudis was a communicant of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in Bradshaw.

A Mass of Christian burial for Colonel Rudis will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 8420 Belair Road, Fullerton.

In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Joan S. Rudis of Perry Hall; a brother, Frank Rudis of Worcester; and two sisters, Jadvine Thoren of Seattle and Anna Rose of Worcester.

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