Matthew Paul Ruffner, 34, Chief Warrant Officer 3, of Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania, formerly of Level Green, Pa., died Tuesday April 9, 2013, as the result of injuries sustained while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
Born Nov.18, 1978, in Punxsutawney, Pa., Matthew was the son of Charles and Diane (Gardner) Ruffner of Glen Campbell, Pa.
Matthew was a 1997 graduate of London High School in London, Ohio. He graduated in 2003 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. Matthew was a fulltime AH-64D Apache helicopter instructor pilot for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at Fort Indiantown Gap.
Matthew joined the military in 1997, serving initially in the Army Reserve’s 705th Transportation Company in Dayton, Ohio, before transferring to the Army National Guard’s 1-110th Infantry in Indiana, Pa., where he served as an infantry platoon leader. Matthew completed warrant officer training in 2005 and subsequently transferred to the aviation career field in which he served as an aviation life support equipment officer, tactical operations officer and instructor pilot.
Some of his awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (posthumous), the Air Medal (posthumous), two Army Achievement Medals, the Combat Action Badge, five Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals, the Senior Army Aviator Badge, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, and the Parachutist Badge.
Matthew touched many lives as he attended schools in Punxsutawney, Pa.; Millersburg, Pa.; London, Ohio; Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and throughout his professional life with the U.S. Army. He was a gifted athlete, excelling on his high school baseball and football teams, and he enjoyed slalom water skiing, kayaking with his family, weightlifting, and hunting. Matthew was a talented musician, playing guitar—which he played by ear—in numerous bands. Matthew will most fondly be remembered by his family and friends for his great humor and memorable practical jokes, his caring and sensitive nature, his strong convictions, and his great capacity to connect with others, from which he developed countless lifelong friendships.
In addition to his parents, Charles and Diane, surviving are his brother Jeffrey (Mary); nieces Caitlin and Cara Ruffner; three aunts, two uncles, and numerous cousins; his long-time sweetheart Jackeline Bignardi and their beloved Hector; and many friends. Matthew was preceded in death by his uncle and maternal and paternal grandparents.
The family will receive family and friends at the Rairigh Funeral Home, Ltd. , 18944 Route 286 Hwy East, Hillsdale, Pa., on Friday, April 19, from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, April 20, at 11 a.m. at S.S. Cosmas and Damian Catholic Church at 616 West Mahoning Street, Punxsutawney, Pa. Afterwards, the family and funeral cortege will proceed from the church to Burnside Cemetery in Burnside, Pa., where Matthew will be buried with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that memorial contributions be made to the Fisher House Foundation, Inc.: 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, MD 20850-5168; or at www.fisherhouse.org.