Lt. Herbert M. Ruth 1930-1980
UDT-R TRAINING CLASS 32 - 30 MAR 64 to 07 AUG 64

Herb's Military Career, Awards, Citations, Training & Duty Stations

LT John C. "Bubba" Brewton - USS Brewton FF-1086

"By Sea, Air, and Land"An illustrated History and the U.S. Navy and the war in South East Asia

Lt. Herbert M. Ruth, UDT-11, SEAL Team One, SEAL Team Two

A composition written for a college english course by my brother Jeffrey Ruth about an ambush in the Rung Sat Special Zone in Vietnam involving detachment GOLF from SEAL Team One

7 APRIL 1967

Purple HeartPurple HeartPurple Heart

LT Daniel M. Mann ST- 1   7 Apr 67 RSSZ; River ambush

IC3 Donald E. Boston ST- 1   7 Apr 67 RSSZ; River ambush

RM3 Robert K. Neal ST-1    7 Apr 67 RSSZ; River ambush
Died of wounds 21 Apr 67

Who am I sir ?
A Frogman am I.
A UDT man
I will be till I die.
For it's HOOYAH tigaree
We're the men of UDT.
DAMN, bim bam
Altogether for Uncle Sam.

The cool humid morning lay like a heavy blanket on the twenty SEALs as they loaded the LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) for a two hour journey up the Vam Sat river in the heavily controlled Viet Cong area of the Rung Sat Tidal Swamp region, located in South Vietnam. 

The Rung Sat was a large base of operations for the Viet Cong, who continually thwarted the military progress of South Vietnamese troops in the region.  For this reason, the members of America's most elite fighting unit were called on.  These men are known as UDT/SEAL (Underwater Demolition Team / Sea Air Land) or SEALs for short, and were the first Americans to operate in the Rung Sat.

In the year of 1967, the SEALs enjoyed much success in disrupting the operations of the Viet Cong in the Rung Sat.  Many of their raids were pure harassment raids in which the object was to go as far as they could into VC "safe" areas and kill or capture armed VC, steal documents, and in general, make the VC as insecure in their bases as many South Vietnamese and US GIs were.

The SEALs assignment was no different than any other.  They were again on their way to make the lives of the enemy as miserable as possible.  Shoving off at the pre planned hour of 5 a.m., the LCM gingerly made the journey up the Vam Sat river through the early morning mist.  All went well for the first hour and a half.

Suddenly, during a pass busting bunkers, the sound of enemy automatic weapons fire pierced the air.  This time the SEALs were the one's who were ambushed.

My father, Senior Chief Petty Officer Herb Ruth, was manning the radio when the ambush took place.  Instinctively, he quickly called for the air support of the Sea Wolves, a company of gunship helicopters.  After doing so, a strong urge compelled Herb to trade places with the SEAL who was manning the 60 mm mortar.  While trading places, an enemy air burst killed the man next to Herb as well as the SEAL who was now manning the radio, along with the CO (Commanding Officer), and at the time causing severe flash burns across the face and arms of Herb.

Undaunted by the severe burns he received, Herb, along with Petty Officer Ron Kelmell continued to return rapid mortar fire in an effort to suppress the Viet Cong attack.  After many minutes of fierce fighting, the ambush area was cleared of all VC.

Now was the time to assess the damage that had been done.  Slipping and sliding through the blood on the deck of the LCM, Herb, oblivious to his own injuries began to help the wounded.  Fourteen of the Twenty SEALs were seriously wounded, while three others lay dead.  Herb, being trained in emergency medical techniques, administered first aid to his seriously wounded Team Mates until they were MEDIVACED.  Only then were his own wounds taken care of.  Not only was Herb seriously flash burned, but later he also found out that he had received shrapnel in his back and legs as a result of the explosion.  Month's later during the Awards ceremony, Herb was awarded the Silver Star for his gallant actions while facing the enemy.  The Commander presenting the award stated, "Herb Ruth's determination to stay at his battle station undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his Team Mates."

Who is this man who ate danger like a cake ?  He is a member of the Fraternal Order of UDT / SEAL, America's fighting elite.

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, 
I shall fear no evil
because I'm the MEANEST BASTARD in the valley

Jeffrey L. Ruth, December 1983. klr

Dad was (I believe, at the time) the second oldest individual to be accepted into Basic Underwater Demolition Team Training.  He was 34,  6 years over the present age limit and an E-7 Chief Petty Officer.. He had to try 3 separate times to convince the TEAMS to even allow him the opportunity to participate in the screening process in place at the time.  He had to get a waiver for the screening process because he was too old and over the rank of E-6.

 According to "Tractor Dan" Dave Gearhart, dad was billeted for UDT-R Class 31.  He developed Chicken Pox, was hospitalized for two weeks and was rolled back to UDT-R Class 32.  Tractor Dan stated "He come to us as an 'Old Guy', 32, 33 something (unheard of) !!  He came sick and kind a chubby. No one gave him a farts chance in hell of even getting through Hell Week, boy were we wrong!!  Not only did he kick ass in training but led the pack, he was one of our Alpha Moles.  The thought of quitting or failure simply put, did not exist to Herb."  Tractor goes on to say "I owe your father.  Owe a blood debt, in fact I owe my very life to Herb.  On at least three occasions, your father; my Team Mate and Friend; actually saved my life."

 Whatever Dad accomplished pales in comparison to his graduation from UDT-R Class 32.  He served his first tour in Vietnam in 1965 with UDT-11, he then was transferred to SEAL Team One and served a tour in Vietnam in 1967,  was transferred to SEAL Team Two, and his third Vietnam tour was in 1969.  He retired April 1976 as Lieutenant.

"Herb was first in line for the real action.  He was last in line for the bragging.  There were some that reversed that pattern in their presentation.  In the Teams the worst were very good and the best were the great"   JERRY CLARK - UDT-11, SEALTeam One.
"I knew his dad real well and he was an outstanding guy. As a Chief, he was pushing boots in SDiego and then decided to go to BUD/S. When he graduated, he reported to my Team, UDT-11, and he proved to be an outstanding operator. He then went to ST-1, where he continued to perform. I believe he was awarded a Silver Star, amongst others. When he made Warrant, he was transfered to ST-2.

He was a Mormon and was sqeeky clean, but he never took issue with the rest of us and he always attended all the parties. In my opinion, he was one of the finest Teammates I have ever known, and I think you'd get that same endorsement from anyone that ever came in contact with him."  Captain Norm Olsen (ret.)

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This Site Created by:  Kerry L. Ruth,
Updated:  April 20, 2002