Rodolfo Alaniz was born in 1928, the fifth of 13 children of Roque and Sara Alaniz of Mission, Texas. The children grew up there, in the Rio Grande Valley town of Mission and five of the sons served in the military. Two of Rudy’s older brothers were drafted in WWII, and Ricardo, a rifleman in the 8th Infantry Division, was killed in Germany in the spring of 1945. The loss of his brother deeply affected sixteen year-old Rudy and he says, “I presented my brother’s flag to my mother. That was the saddest part of my life.” Rodolfo enlisted in the Army as soon as he turned 18.

He entered active duty on October 23, 1946 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for Basic Training. Private Alaniz was then shipped to Japan where he served in the occupation forces, assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, 24th Infantry Division. While Pfc Alaniz was enroute, on his way home after 13 months in Japan, President Truman involuntarily extended enlistments by one year. After that, Rudy took his discharge as soon as he could and returned home to Mission, but he was there only briefly.

After a short break in service he reenlisted and was sent to Fort Hood, Texas (Camp Hood at that time) where he was assigned to Company D, 41st Infantry, 2nd Armored Division. While at Fort Hood, he could visit home often and on one visit he met Miss Gloria Araguz of McAllen and they were soon married.

After 3 ? years at Fort Hood, he was transferred to Fort Bliss at El Paso, Texas. In 1952, after six months at Fort Bliss, he was ordered to Korea as an individual replacement.

Sergeant Rodolfo Alaniz was soon in combat, assigned to 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. The division’s units had been rushed into Korea in the summer of 1950, the early days of the war, had seen much action since, and sustained many losses. The 9th Infantry Regiment had its share of the division’s action and of its losses. For the war, the 9th suffered 1,369 killed in action and 4,579 wounded in action. Rudy Alaniz was among those sent to replace casualties lost during the Summer-Fall Campaign of 1952, and was himself wounded only weeks later. What follows is the regiment’s situation when Rudy arrived in October 1952 (from multiple unit history postings on the internet).

The 9th Infantry Regiment, which had a battalion of Thailand troops attached, had been in reserve when a series of enemy attacks in October 1952 produced some of the heaviest fighting in more than a year. The initial attack on October 6th opened with the largest volume of mortar and artillery fire received by 8th Army during the war. Action slowed later in the month and on October 25th the 9th moved back into the front line. The regiment was responsible for the entire left half of the division zone, and with four battalions on line that sector included the critical outpost positions of Old Baldy, Porkchop, and the T-Bone. Sgt Alaniz’ 3rd Battalion was one of the units on the line. Enemy shelling was heaviest on Porkchop during late October, but improved fortifications made the hill more defensible than in previous days. Enemy probing attacks, supported by intensive artillery and mortar fire, came almost nightly and grew in size until November 10th when an enemy battalion attacked the Thai troops on Porkchop. The attackers were driven off at dawn the next morning, and after that there were only smaller probes in succeeding days that were driven off each time. All units were now well dug in across the Main Line of Resistance and the chain of hill outposts. Winter clothing and equipment of all types had been distributed and the 2nd Infantry Division was prepared for cold weather as no previous force had ever been prepared.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Alaniz had been wounded on November 4th. He says, “I was hit in the forehead with shrapnel in the evening of November 4th. The Medic treated me that night and sent me off to the Aid Station the next morning. The Aid Station treated me and sent me back to the unit. The next day the Company Commander awarded the Purple Heart to me and four others.” Rudy returned home from Korea in September 1953 and was initially sent to Fort Bliss. He was next stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for 18 months. Following that, he had a three-year European assignment in Giessen, Germany, where he was assigned to Service Battery, 594th Field Artillery. In 1958 took his discharge from the Army, and then joined the Air Force.

Rudy enlisted in the Air Force as an Airman 3rd Class and was sent to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas for a six-month course in aircraft mechanics. He was 26 years old at that time and he and Gloria had two children, Rudy and Rosemary. He was next assigned to the Military Air Transport Service at Dover AFB, Delaware and while there in 1962 he was selected for the tour of South American countries with the “Friendship 7” capsule. On February 20, 1962 that was the first American spacecraft to orbit the earth, and accompanying the tour to Panama, Puerto Rico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Mexico immediately after that was one of the highlights of Rudy’s time in the Air Force. Children John A. and Gloria I. were born when Rudy was at Dover.

After the three year assignment in Delaware, Rudy was transferred to Kelly AFB, Texas for 7-8 months and following that was assigned to Howard AFB in Panama for three years. His retirement assignment was at Charleston AFB, South Carolina where he took postal training and did transition work with the Post Office. SSG Alaniz retired from the Air Force on June 30, 1968 and moved with his family to Austin, Texas, motivated primarily to be near a sister and brother-in-law.

Rodolfo then served a second career with the Postal Service, working in the downtown and the south Austin Post Offices, and retiring in 1989. He has been a Life Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart for nine years, and this month Chapter 1919 proudly salutes Patriot Rodolfo Alaniz.