Herb Ruth was born on August 14, 1930, in Idaho. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 1948, and completed basic training at NTC San Diego, California, in April 1948. His first assignment was as a boat engineer at Subic Bay in the Philippines from April 1948 to November 1949, followed by service as a sheet metal repairer aboard the repair ship USS Ajax (AR-6) from November 1949 until he left active duty in January 1952. During this time he deployed aboard the ship to waters around Korea during the Korean War. Petty Officer Ruth reenlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1956, and then served as a boat repairer aboard the attack cargo ship USS Seminole (AKA-104) from April 1956 to June 1959. His next assignment was as Petty Officer in Charge of waterfront equipment with ACB-1 at NAB Coronado, California, from June 1959 to June 1961, followed by service as a Company Commander and swimming instructor for Navy Basic Training at NTC San Diego from June 1961 to April 1964. Chief Petty Officer Ruth attended Underwater Demolition Team Replacement training with UDTR Class 31 from March to April 1964, with UDTR Class 32 from April to August 1964, and then served with UDT-11 at NAB Coronado from August 1964 to September 1966. During this time he deployed with his unit to South Vietnam from October 1965 to August 1966. Senior Chief Petty Officer Ruth's next assignment was with SEAL Team ONE at NAB Coronado from September 1966 to June 1968, followed by Warrant Officer Indoctrination School from July to September 1968. During this time he again deployed with his Team to South Vietnam from February to June 1967. Warrant Officer Ruth served with SEAL Team TWO at NAB Little Creek, Virginia, from September 1968 to July 1973, and during this time he was commissioned an Ensign and deployed with his Team to South Vietnam from June to December 1969. His final assignment was as Operation and Training Officer for Coastal River Division 22 in New Orleans, Louisiana, from July 1973 until his retirement from the Navy in April 1976. Herb Ruth died on May 23, 1980.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Squad leader and assistant Platoon Commander with SEAL Team ONE Detachment Golf from February to June 1967. Senior Chief Petty Officer RUTH demonstrated constant determination and alertness during the course of reconnaissance patrols, demolition raids, and ambushes in the demanding and hostile environment of the Rung Sat Tidal Swamp, Republic of Vietnam. Senior Chief Petty Officer RUTH led 15 patrols in the Run Sat and participated in more than 15 others as an assistant patrol leader. On 7 April 1967 the SEAL LCM was ambushed by a company-sized Viet Cong force on the Vam Sat river. Fourteen of the 20 SEALs aboard were casualties; three were killed. Senior Chief Petty Officer RUTH was manning a 60mm mortar at the time of the attack. Although an enemy airburst killed the man next to him and caused a severe flash burn across Senior Chief Petty Officer RUTH's face, he continued to return fire in an effort to suppress the Viet Cong attack. His determination to remain at his battle station undoubtedly saved the lives of many others on the boat. After clearing the ambush area, Senior Chief Petty Officer RUTH, unmindful of his own injuries, administered aid to his seriously wounded shipmates until they were MEDEVACED. His courage, leadership and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.