CW4 (Ret) William L. "Willie" Ruf passed away September 20, 2007, at Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan, Alabama. He was 84. Mr. Ruf was born February 16, 1923, at Monmouth, N. J. to Sgt. Major William Ruf, Sr. and Mrs. Katherine Garthwaite Ruf. He enlisted in the Army at age eighteen and served in the infantry in WW II where he was captured, but escaped to rejoin the war. In 1955, he graduated with the first Helicopter Pilot Class at Fort Rucker, and later saw action as a pilot in the Korean War, the Lebanon crisis, and the Vietnam conflict. In 1959 he became a member of the Army Executive Flight Detachment (Presidential Flight), serving as the helicopter pilot for Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Later he served as an instructor pilot at Fort Rucker for 5 years accumulating 16000 total flying hours, 1200 in combat. After 26 years of service, he retired from the Army in 1967 with the rank of CW4, having earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Air Medal for Valor. Following his retirement from the Service, he became a civilian flight instructor until his final retirement. During his retirement years he remained active as a Red Cross volunteer at the Fort Rucker hospital, a tour guide at the Ft. Rucker Army Aviation Museum, and a popular guest speaker at helicopter flight training graduations and other ceremonies at the post. Mr. Ruf was a graduate of Troy University, and was an active and supportive member of the Troy State Alumni Association. He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 50 years, Grace Madeline Ireland Ruf. He is survived by his wife Kim Ruf of Daleville, AL, a son William L. (Billy) Ruf, III of Enterprise, a daughter Teresa Ann, and her husband Dr. Raymond Crawford, III of Clifton, VA and their children Kimberly (Mrs. Ian Buxton), Jennifer, and 1LT Brian Crawford. Other survivors include a step-daughter, Natalie, a brother George and wife Jean Ruf of Florida, a sister Louise and husband Nicholas DiDia of New Jersey, and a brother Norman and wife Raymanda of Illinois. A funeral mass will be held for the family at the Fort Rucker chapel on Thursday, October 11, 2007, at 1700. A memorial service for Mr. Ruf will be held at the Army Aviation Museum on Friday, October 12, 2007, at 1000, with interment in the family cemetery in Centreville, MD on Saturday, October 20, 2007. Byrd Funeral Home, (334) 793-3003, is in charge of arrangements.
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