During World War II it was the highest point between Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day (6 June 1944) the United States Army Ranger Assault Group assaulted and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.
After graduation from Texas A&M, Rudder had been commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry in the United States Organized Reserve Corps. After being called into active duty in 1941, Rudder took part in the D-Day landings as Commanding Officer of the United States Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion. His U.S. Army Rangers stormed the beach at Pointe du Hoc, scaling 100-foot (30 meter) cliffs under enemy fire to reach and destroy German gun batteries. The battalion’s casualty rate for this perilous mission was greater than 50 percent. Rudder himself was wounded twice during the course of the fighting. In spite of this, they dug in and fought off German counter-attacks for two days until relieved. He and his men helped to successfully establish a beachhead for the Allied forces.