Stephen A. Rudloff, 76
Feb. 19, 1945 – May 31, 2021
COOPERSTOWN – Stephen Anthony Rudloff, Commander, United States Navy (Retired) who survived 323 days in captivity as a POW during the Vietnam War, passed away peacefully following a long illness the evening of Memorial Day, May 31, 2021, at his home on Nelson Avenue surrounded by family. He was 76.
Born February 19, 1945, in Brooklyn, he was a son of Ernest and Mary (Camarro) Rudloff. After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1962, he attended St. John’s University.
On September 20, 1964, he entered the United States Navy School of PreFlight at NAS Pensacola, Florida, completed Basic Naval Aviation Officers School in August 1965, and completed Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) School at NAS Glynco, Georgia in October 1965. He was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy on August 15, 1965, received his wings and designated a RIO on October 28, 1965. His first assignment was to VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California, for F-4 Phantom II Replacement Air Group training from December 1965 to June 1966, followed by service as an F-4 RIO with VF-154 at NAS Moffett Field, California, from June 1966 to June 1968. During this time, LT Rudloff deployed with his unit to Southeast Asia from September 1966 to January 1967, and from December 1967 to April 1968. Following that tour of duty, he reported to the Naval Plant Representative Office with McDonnell Douglas Corporation, in St. Louis, Missouri, where he remained for two years as a Public Affairs Officer. Following refresher training in the F-4, he reported to Fighter Squadron Ninety-Two in July 1971, and deployed to Vietnam aboard the USS Constellation in October.
On May 10, 1972, LT Rudloff launched as RIO with Commander Harry L. Blackburn, Jr. as pilot in their F4J Phantom fighter aircraft. They were assigned on a flak suppression mission against the Guan Lang Airfield near Hai Duong, Hai Hung Province, North Vietnam. After effectively hitting two anti-aircraft positions, they were in the process of engaging enemy MiG aircraft when their plane was hit and destroyed by a barrage of antiaircraft artillery and they were forced to eject from the aircraft over North Vietnam. LT Rudloff was taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 323 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973, and was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy, his courage, superb airmanship and fearless devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service, he was awarded the Silver Star.
Following his recovery, LT Rudloff attended the Naval War College at Newport Rhode Island. Lieutenant Commander Rudloff next attended F-14 Tomcat Replacement Air Group training with the VF-124 at NAS Miramar, followed by his service as an F-14 RIO with VF-111 at NAS Miramar. His next assignment was with Headquarters Allied Forces Northern Europe in Oslo, Norway, and then in the Bureau of Naval Personnel at the Pentagon, where Commander Rudloff retired from the Navy on November 1, 1984.
Upon moving to Cooperstown, he worked for a time at the Veterans Service Agency.
Stephen was an active and devoted member of the Sgt. Walter P. Eggleston Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7128 and the Clark F. Simmons American Legion Post No. 579 in Cooperstown. He truly enjoyed times spent with his friends at the Cooperstown Vets Club.
Stephen is survived by two sons, Geoffrey C. Rudloff and wife, Paola, of Cooperstown, and Adrian Rudloff of Los Angeles, California; a daughter, Allyson Passeroff of Delray Beach, Florida; four grandchildren, Daniel, Michael and Stephanie Rudloff and Julia Passeroff; and a brother, Ernie Rudloff of Long Island.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown, with the Very Rev. Michael G. Cambi, pastor, officiating.
Commander Rudloff will be laid to rest with Full Military Honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Cooperstown Veterans Club, PO Box 1264, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.