The moon may seem to be very far away for most people, but it wasn’t so far for one Lincolnton man. The youngest son of a very large family growing up on South Grove Street, Forrest “David” Rudisill graduated from Lincolnton High School. While he never traveled in a space ship, this Lincolnton man was a member of the team of scientists, technicians and astronauts that were responsible for the Apollo Moon Mission 50 years ago.
Rudisill was the son of Carrie Jenkins and Evan Leon Rudisill. After graduating from Lincolnton High School, he attended North Carolina State University and obtained an electronic engineering degree.
“Most of the Rudisill brothers saw action during World War II or aided in areas from working on the atomic bomb to the assault at V-J Day and thereafter,” niece Lisa Rudisill said. “While an aviation electronics technician for the U.S. Navy, David spent six and a half months on patrol duty with the ‘Neptunes’ during an unusual severe winter when ice blocked ships for the entire season in the Arctic. He was added to the list of those brave ones who have crossed the Arctic Circle.”
After the war, Rudisill went to work with the U.S. Arsenal manufacturing at Huntsville, Alabama. While there, he was involved in the beginnings of what became the Apollo space mission.
“He worked with Werner Von Braun, a German man from Hitler’s regime who defected and came to America,” Lisa Rudisill said. “He started the whole rocket program for America. That’s how David got involved. The missile program was started in Huntsville.”
Lisa Rudisill knew her uncle was working in Huntsville at the time but wasn’t aware of his involvement with the Apollo mission until recently. Unlike children today, in David Rudisill’s time, they didn’t know much about rockets so he didn’t play with them as a child. Lisa Rudisill remembered that he was a quiet person and was very mathematical and scientific minded, as were all of his brothers.
“I had been in touch with him off and on before he died,” she said. “I recently got the information on the award he received from NASA along with all the other members who helped with the Apollo Moon Mission.”
In 1969, Rudisill was the recipient of an award presented by Director Thomas Paine, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The award was given “in appreciation of dedicated service to the nation as a member of the team which has advanced the nation’s capabilities in aeronautics and space and demonstrated them in many outstanding accomplishments culminating in Apollo 11’s successful achievement of man’s first landing on the moon July 20, 1969.”
Rudisill spent much of his adult life in the Huntsville, Alabama area and went on to patent some of his electronic inventions. Following the Apollo mission, he went to work with Honeywell Corporation. Once retired, he spent most of his time in his greatest hobby, golfing. He never married and passed away in the Huntsville area in 2010.