Stephen Rudloff was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1945. He entered the U.S. Navy School of PreFlight at NAS Pensacola, Florida, on September 20, 1964; completed Basic Naval Aviation Officers School at NAS Pensacola in August 1965; and completed Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) School at NAS Glynco, Georgia, in October 1965. Rudloff was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on August 15, 1965, and was designated a Radar Intercept Officer on October 28, 1965. His first assignment was to VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California, for F-4 Phantom II Replacement Air Group training from December 1965 to June 1966, followed by service as an F-4 RIO with VF-154 at NAS Moffett Field, California, from June 1966 to June 1968. During this time, LT Rudloff deployed with his unit to Southeast Asia from September 1966 to January 1967, and from December 1967 to April 1968. His next assignment was as a Public Affairs Officer in the Naval Plant Representative Office with McDonnell Douglas Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri, from June 1968 to August 1970, and then back to VF-121 at NAS Miramar for F-4 Replacement Air Group Training from September 1970 to July 1971. He served as an F-4 RIO with VF-92 at NAS Miramar from July to September 1971, and then deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) from October 1971 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on May 10, 1972. After spending 323 days in captivity, LT Rudloff was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then attended the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island. LCDR Rudloff next attended F-14 Tomacat Replacement Air Group training with VF-124 at NAS Miramar, followed by service as an F-14 RIO with VF-111 at NAS Miramar. His next assignment was with Headquarters Allied Forces Northern Europe in Oslo, Norway, and then in the Bureau of Naval Personnel at the Pentagon, where he retired from the Navy on November 1, 1984.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy as a Naval flight officer of jet aircraft in Fighter Squadron Ninety-two embarked in USS CONSTELLATION (CVA 64). On 10 May 1972 Lieutenant RUDLOFF launched as the radar intercept officer with the leader of a section of aircraft on a target combat air patrol mission, protecting the striking force in a raid against the Hai Duong Complex, North Vietnam. Encountering heavy opposition from accurately directed anti-aircraft artillery and expecting surface-to-air missiles in the target area, he assisted his pilot in maneuvering his section against an oncoming MIG threat consisting of approximately ten MIG 17, two MIG 19 and two MIG 21 aircraft. Fully aware that the turn toward the airborne enemy threat would necessitate the transit of concentrated anti-aircraft artillery fire, he nevertheless pressed the attack with determined aggressiveness, intent upon engaging and destroying the enemy which had attacked the main striking force. As he gallantly strove to defend the lives of his colleagues against the numerically superior airborne enemy flight, he was forced to abandon his aircraft deep within hostile territory when it was destroyed by a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery. Lieutenant RUDLOFF's courage, superb airmanship and fearless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.