Born in New York City on August 10, 1952, Rudy Purificato earned a BA degree in history and journalism from Texas Christian University and an Army commission in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1974. During his 25-year Army career, he served in numerous leadership positions to include commanding the 90th Military History Detachment at Fort Sam Houston which was assigned the mission of finding and collecting U.S. military historical records in Panama as part of the Panama Canal Treaty implementation requirements. As an Army historian, he helped plan and conduct numerous events in France commemorating the WWII battle route of the 90th Infantry Division during the 50th anniversary of D-Day that included the Utah Beach, Normandy ceremony. An Operation Desert Storm veteran who escorted imbedded media while attached to an Army unit, he also deployed to Bosnia on behalf of Air Force News to cover U.S. involvement in stabilization operations in 1997 following the Bosnian Civil War.
During a five-year break in military service, he served as a newspaper reporter/editor photographer/columnist/cartoonist for several Texas newspapers to include the Austin American-Statesmen, Temple Daily Telegram and Marlin Daily Democrat. He had also produced and hosted a daily TV news/talk show for the Fort Hood Cable TV Network while in the Army serving as a broadcaster whose guests included Oscar winners Don Ameche and Joan Fontaine and TV’s “The Virginian” – James Drury.
Working as an Air Force civil servant for the past 21 years, he had previously served as a public affairs specialist who ultimately earned the Department of Defense’s Pulitzer Prize – “The Thomas Jefferson Award,” presented to him by ABC newman Sam Donaldson in Washington, D.C. in 2005 for his ten-part Centennial of Flight series commemorating military aviation legends. For most of the 16 years while stationed at the former Brooks AFB, he served as a science and technology communications specialist with the Armstrong Laboratory, Air Force Research Laboratory and U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. As a universal translator of many scientific disciplines working with Air Force scientists and engineers, he conducted several landmark interviews to include Dr. Edwin Teller (“Father of the Hydrogen Bomb,”); Dr. James Watson, Nobel Prize recipient for his co-discovery of DNA’s structure; and 77-year-old John Glenn during his centrifuge training at Brooks prior to his shuttle mission. During his last few years at Brooks AFB, he earned a master’s degree in military operational art and science from the Air Force’s post-graduate school – Air University, and wrote and produced the Air Force documentary “The Story of Brooks” that chronicles the 90-plus year history of the base. He also served as the base’s last historian, responsible for closing the Edward H. White III Memorial Museum (Hangar 9) and the world’s only museum annex dedicated to Air Force flight nursing.
Prior to becoming AETC Command Curator and Director of Operations of the Airman Heritage Museum & Enlisted Character Development Center at Lackland AFB in March 2015, he served as command historian for the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, where in 2012-2013 he deployed to Afghanistan to write a classified wartime history while assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base.