Ken Ruud was born on April 14, 1948, in Seattle, Washington. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 21, 1967, and after completing basic training, he was trained as an aircraft mechanic and then as a crew chief on C-130 Hercules transports at Sheppard AFB, Texas, from August to November 1967. His first assignment was to Okinawa for 18 months, flying cargo in and out of Vietnam, from November 1967 to May 1969, followed by service with Detachment 2 of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, from May 1969 until his honorable discharge from the Air Force on June 20, 1971. During this time, Sgt Ruud volunteered for and participated in Operation Ivory Coast as support for the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to free American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam on November 21, 1970. After leaving the Air Force, Ken worked for Kenworth Truck Company for 37 years, retiring in 2009. He and his wife Sylvia have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.
His Joint Service Commendation Medal Citation reads:
To Kenneth A. Ruud, Sergeant, United States Air Force, who distinguished himself by meritorious achievement from 17 September 1970 through December 1970, while serving as a member of the Joint Command Task Group, Joint Chiefs of Staff. During this critical and strenuous period his exemplary manner, demonstrated professional skills and distinct dedication to duty contributed directly to the support of a Joint Chiefs directed heli-borne assault to rescue and extract U.S. military personnel held as prisoners of war at SON TAY, North Vietnam. His exemplary performance of duty has reflected great credit upon himself, the Joint Command Task Group and the United States Air Force.