Ranger Who Landed at Normandy and Inspired Generations Dies Before D-Day Anniversary

June 5, 2021Hannah Ray Lambert
Army Ranger WWII Roy Huereque

Rudolph “Roy” Huereque, an Army Ranger who helped liberate French villages and concentration camps in World War II, died May 22, just two weeks before the 77th anniversary of D-Day.

As a member of the 5th Ranger Battalion, Huereque was part of a wave of forces that landed on Normandy’s blood-soaked beaches June 7, 1944, at Le Havre. He celebrated his 95th birthday in April but contracted pneumonia not long after. He died from complications of the illness.

Coffee or Die Magazine executive editor Marty Skovlund Jr., a former Ranger who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq and Afghanistan, met Huereque two years ago in France to commemorate the 75th D-Day anniversary. Huereque made the 2019 trip to Normandy with the Best Defense Foundation, which has taken more than 100 World War II veterans on battlefield-return programs to remember the fallen. At 93, Huereque looked more the age of a Vietnam veteran to Skovlund, he said. 

“He was physically fit, sharp, and a no-shit, bona fide World War II Army Ranger who stood tall and set an incredible example,” Skovlund said.

Army Ranger WWII Roy Huereque
World War II Army Ranger Roy Huereque. Photo courtesy of the Best Defense Foundation.

Huereque was born April 16, 1926, in New Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles. As the United States fought wars on two fronts, Huereque was drafted in 1944 and deployed to Europe after basic training. 

A group of soldiers looking for volunteers for the Rangers approached Huereque upon his arrival in England. Huereque joined, and he fought Nazis through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria. He witnessed the horrors of the concentration camps, an experience that haunted him for the rest of his life.

“I could not believe my eyes,” he recalled in an interview in 2019. “We went in to see what was going on in the prison, and we seen what we didn’t want to see. The people looked like walking dead. They were starving, and they looked like skeletons […] And then there were some that were laying there that were dead, and the Germans wouldn’t take care of them. They’d just leave em there.”

Huereque said the prisoners had been so glad to see the Rangers that some had walked over and hugged the men, not wanting to let go.

After the war, Huereque worked as an airplane mechanic, then as a truck driver. He married and had three daughters, one son, a dozen grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Many Americans view “the Greatest Generation” as heroes, but Huereque never applied that label to himself.

“I think that the Rangers that got killed were the heroes,” he said. “We’re still alive. We eat at night and go to bed. Those guys that got killed, I feel real bad.”

Huereque’s humility is a characteristic common among Rangers, Skovlund said.

“Roy, like many Army Rangers, felt like they just did what they were supposed to do,” he said. “They created the legacy that modern Rangers strive to carry forward to this day.”

roy Huereque president trump
WWII veteran Roy Huereque pictured with President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and active-duty special forces during the observance of the 75th D-Day anniversary in June 2019. Photo courtesy of the Best Defense Foundation.

Former NFL linebacker Donnie Edwards, who founded the Best Defense Foundation, said he’d always remember Huereque and what he and other Rangers did to fight against tyranny and defend America.

“It’s one thing to understand what we have today, but it’s another thing to realize how we got here, and it’s from the backs of men like Roy Huereque and all of his brothers and sisters who defended America and the rest of the free world,” Edwards said. “May we never forget and never take it for granted.”

Read Next: WATCH: Color Footage of World War II Army Ranger Training

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
Coffee Or Die Photo
US: War Crimes on All Sides in Ethiopia's Tigray Conflict

The Biden administration announced Monday that it has determined all sides in the brutal conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

March 20, 2023Associated Press
military pilots cancer rates
Higher Cancer Rates Found in Military Pilots, Ground Crews

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft b...

March 20, 2023Associated Press
whiskey pour
Veterans Lead the Way Among America’s Growing Craft Distilleries

American veterans are taking the lessons they learned in the military and changing the craft distilling industry.

March 20, 2023Mac Caltrider
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved