During Rudy Golling’s long military career, he served first in the Army during WW II and then in the Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He retired from active duty in 1974, after thirty years of service. Air Force work is often technical and highly skilled; Rudy’s career depended on his ability to learn and keep up with the job’s increasing mechanical and electrical complexities as the Air Force evolved from propellers to rockets.
Like most military careerists, Rudy and his family were frequently uprooted from duty stations at home and abroad. That’s military life, he concedes. The stress of keeping the family together was, at times, difficult. “I was rough on my kids,” he admits. “I was an Air Force ‘Bastard’ Sergeant!” Despite the ordeal, several of Rudy’s kids and grand kids have also chosen to serve.
Sometimes we get excited messages from friends of veterans: “You just have to interview . . . their stories are amazing!” So, we were delighted when Nancy Hrabak of Connellsville, PA arrived with her friend Rudy for his oral history interview. At 87 Rudy no longer drives, so Nancy had driven nearly 40 miles on a sweltering August day in 2012 to pick up Rudy at his Pittsburgh home and deliver him to suburban Brentwood.
Our mobile studio was set up in the meeting room of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; it was a comfortably quiet location to record our veterans’ interviews, with a backdrop of shelved books and a cozy fireplace. By this time, our crew was feeling the weary side of a long summer season of interviews.
Like many veterans, Rudy arrived with an armful of memorabilia that not only documented his long military career, but also represented a lifetime of adventures and experiences that took him far from his boyhood Pittsburgh home–and back again.
Indeed, we were honored to hear Rudy’s stories.
The Final Story
Rudy Golling, age 88, died August 16, 2014. Beloved husband of Shirley Mary Golling; beloved father of John Golling, Kevin Golling, Veronica Wolf, Mary Orlowsky, William Campbell, Lisa Arnold, Ann Marie Kadales, Wayne Smith, Debra Argento, and Shirley Smith. Mr. Golling was predeceased by two of his children, Rudolph, Jr. and Donna Golling. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mr. Golling spent 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, retired as a Master Sergeant in 1976 and received two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. Mass of Christian Burial was held at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Beechview. Mr. Golling is laid to rest in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.