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March Volunteer Profile – Rudy Toldrain

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Rudy Toldrain typing out a message during his time in the Merchant Marine.

Rudy Toldrain is our longest serving volunteer at Patriots Point. He grew up in Nutley, New Jersey and graduated from high school in 1944. Rudy was accepted into the Merchant Marine radio school at Sheepshead Bay, New York in November 1944 and after successfully completing the course was sent to advanced radio school at Hoffman Island in January 1945. Rudy completed the 5 month course in codes, equipment repair and received his FCC radio operator’s license and a USCG ship’s officer license.

His first ship was the SS Myron T. Herrick and he departed San Francisco for Manila Bay on 01 July 1945.  The ship arrived in Manila on 30 July and then waited to unload supplies for the invasion of Japan.

Typical Liberty ship in World War II.

With the war ending in September, the Herrick was sent to Korea and Rudy was able to visit the port cities of Pusan and Inchon. In November they were sent to Okinawa and just missed a typhoon.  Rudy was homeward bound in November and they had their only excitement when a gun crew spotted a floating mine, which they successfully exploded by firing at it. The SS Herrick and crew arrived in Seattle just before Christmas 1945.  Rudy stayed with the Merchant Marine for a few years after the war before returning to civilian life.

In October 1952 with the onset of the Korean War, Rudy found himself drafted by the US Army and reported to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  Rudy’s expertise in radios was immediately put to use as he was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia, as a field radio repair school instructor. Realizing that his electronic talents were being wasted, the Army sent Rudy to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to attend the radar repair course and he was then assigned as a radar technician in an anti-air battery at Fort Monmouth.

Upon honorable discharge from the Army in 1954, he entered Fairleigh Dickinson University and majored in industrial engineering.  Rudy graduated in 1956 and went to work for Western Electric.  He eventually gained a Masters in Industrial Management and worked for companies like  ITT, Lockheed, and other defense industry companies.

In December 1992, Rudy retired and moved to Mount Pleasant, SC. He saw an ad in the Moultrie News in 1993 asking for volunteers at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. Rudy was one of the first volunteers signed on by Volunteer Coordinator Don Ziglar. He has been a loyal and steady volunteer for over seventeen years. For the last couple of years Rudy has served as one of our World War II veterans who meet with Charleston County School District 5th graders and tell them about their personal story of World War II.

Patriots Point salutes Rudy Toldrain! Thanks for your cheerful service Rudy!

Rudy is seen here helping with the Charleston County School District World War II program on the USS Yorktown.

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