By Emily Farr
Can you imagine walking out on the football field on senior night and one of your parents not being there to share that moment with you? Senior football player Braden Rudolf knows exactly how this feels.
On the morning of Sept. 18, 2008 the Rudolf boys lives’ changed forever; their dad, Chief Warrant Officer Brady Rudolf, had died fighting combat when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was in went down in the vicinity of Tallil, Iraq.
Brady’s middle son, freshman at Durant High School Ty Rudolf, describes the day as unbelievable.
“It was devastating at first, I didn’t believe it.” Ty said. “It was right after school, I was five in kindergarten in Oklahoma City and mom picked all of us up and we pulled over in the parking lot and she turned around and told us. I remember we stayed in that parking lot in the car crying for a good 20 minutes.”
It has been a continual struggle for the whole family and will continue to be in the future. “It effected me in ways others can not even begin to understand,” Ty said.
“We moved to Durant and it was different from Moore but I liked it. I liked the people here and I quickly made friends. However, with my dad not being here with me I never really got to go hunting and do other father-son stuff. Since I lost my father figure it has been hard to do those things.”
A move to a new town is always difficult but under these circumstances it is even harder.
“This town brings constant love that is expressed to my family and it is amazing. It makes me feel proud of my family name and and proud of what I do.” This family has truly touched the hearts of the people who get the opportunity to hear their story.
Brady’s wife Jennifer Rudolf said she would have never imagined what could have happened but she is very thankful for the supportive community.
“We are very fortunate to have family and friends that have been there for us time and time again.” Jennifer said. “Durant has been a great place for the boys to grow up because their dad has history here and so many people can tell them stories about Brady,” she said.
“Each of my sons has a characteristic of Brady that lives on. I am very proud of them and I know Brady would be too! This is not what I planned for me or them. Missing someone you love is the hardest part of life. My faith , and wanting my children to have a happy life has been my motivation to carry on and move forward,” Jennifer said.
Ty summarized the evening speaking about who he is and what he can be.
“Of course there are things I wish he would be here for like senior night, graduation, or even future holidays. I wish I had more time with him but in the time I had, I believe he taught me enough about a loving family that I can be a good father in the future.”