Thursday, October 13, 2011

Memories of Rudy Acojedo

June Week, 1975, just before our "Oath" ceremony at Trophy Point, West Point. Left to right: John Nance, Rudy Acojedo, and me...

Many of us knew and loved Rudy and he loved us back. We will miss him very very much. Rudy passed away on Tuesday, October 11, 2011. My classmate Dan Cappell broke the news to me via email this evening. I hope to talk with Dan soon. Just had a real good cry and then a few smiles, looking at our yearbook. I need to write about Rudy tonight. He’s here, keeping me up too late as he always did. Way past taps, blanket on window, sealing off the light after “Lights Out”. All Right?

Rudy was a good friend. Rudy had a wonderful bright sense of humor, irony, and inner light. He was my roommate for a time at West Point. We were DJ’s together at the radio station, WKDT. We shared a love of music and we turned a lot of records together on our turntables. He was the world’s greatest Beatles fan. We laughed a great deal.

Our company, C4, was not your image of a tough spit and polished company of cadets. We called it Country Club Four, despite the cool beer mugs we had made which said “Charlie 4”. It was a fun group of guys. We did our best at being pleasantly mediocre, enjoying life despite the grayness. Mike Cosio, no longer with us, but drifting up there with the Long Gray Line, was in our company, and he was a grad of Rudy’s high school in Salinas. Mike was my doubles partner for a while. Mike, a year our senior, took good care of Rudy and me and many others.

Rudy was like that too. He took care of people. He listened. Told you to quite whining and stop taking life seriously for a while. He taught me that West Point was not about shiny shoes, although he could be very “strac”, spit and polished. And despite his devil may care outlook, he worked hard, real hard. He was there for people, really there, present for duty, and very present in the moment of things.

I’ll always remember our nights at WKDT. Our hiding place, our cozy home of music. Rudy taught me how to put together a decent radio show, make a tight playlist, and relax behind the microphone and just talk to the audience out there. In my experience with him, that was when he was most alive, playing good music, always including a few Beatles’ tunes. I forget his favorite song. Maybe someone else remembers.

There’s so many people that knew and loved Rudy. No one owns this sense of loss we feel now and will feel from time to time when Rudy decides to tap us on our shoulder. I hear his laugh right now, clearly.

The intensity of life as a cadet could overwhelm. The closeness of classmates there is hard to explain. The thing we call a bond transcends space and time. And yet, for those of us who knew Rudy and shared those four years in E-Wing, that wonderful out of the way flank of the cadet barracks complex overlooking the Superintendent’s Quarters and Ike’s statue, we know that the intensity lowered with friends like Rudy in the hallway. We know that a few pizzas from Tony’s solved the world’s problems. We knew our TAC was fast asleep and we kept watch for the OC.

Rudy took good care of me and many others. That care was infectious. It was a time that will remain timeless. The people made it so.

Rudy must be laughing now and he whispers to me to cut this short, like him, he’d say. He never knew he was a giant. We knew how tall he stood.

Taps…Lights out…”All Right”...We'll be all right, Rudy...but you know that.


  1. Well said, Tom.

    Rudy- we'll meet you on the objective.

  2. I knew him.... And I didn't... Thank you Tom for these beautiful reflections. He'll whisper to all of us... life is short... make the most of it.
    RIP Rudy...