Duty Stations

Feb 1948 US Naval Training Center (USNTC) San Diego; Recruit
Apr 1948 Subic Bay Philippines; Boat Engineer
Nov 1949 USS AJAX AR-6;  Sheet Metal Repair
Jan 1952-1956; Civilian
Apr 1956 USS SEMINOLE AKA10; Boat Repair and AC&R
Jun 1959 Amphibious Construction Battalion-1 Coronado, CA; PO in charge of water front craft
Apr 1961 USNTC San Diego; Company Commander, Swim Instructor
Apr 1964 Underwater Demolition Team-Replacement; Trainee [before BUD/S designation]
Aug 1964 UDT-11; 
UDT Operator, UDT Diver, Diving Supervisor, Platoon Chief, UDT Boat Engineer, Career Counseling & Retention Board
Sep 1966 SEAL Team One; 
SEAL Operator - Asst. Platoon Commander, Weapons & Tactics
Jul 1968 Warrant Officer School
Sep 1968 SEAL Team Two; 
SEAL Operator, Platoon Commander, Asst. Platoon Commander, Diving Officer, Training Officer
Jul 1973 COASTAL RIVER DIVISION 22 [New Orleans]; Operations & Training Officer, Senior Watch Officer
Apr 1976 Retired; Lieutenant (O-3)


  1. Underwater Demolition Team Training
  2. Military Parachutist, Ft. Benning, GA
  3. Underwater Swimmers School
  4. Mark VI Scuba Course
  5. Combat Diver
  6. Mixed Gas Diving School
  7. Apollo Space Capsule Recovery
  8. Operational Navy (OPNAV) Locksmith School
  9. Survival, Escape and Evasion 
  10. SEAL Team Advanced Training, CAMP MACHEN, Cuyamaca, CA
  11. Combative Measures Instructor Training (JUDO)
  12. Vietnamese Language School
  13. Jungle Warfare School
  14. Winter Warfare School
  15. Outboard Engine Repair
  16. Ciphering
  17. Counterinsurgency Orientation
  18. Nuclear Weapons Training

Campaigns and Awards

  • Korea.
  • Vietnam UDT-11 DET CHARLIE Platoon Chief 1965 to 1966.
  • Vietnam SEAL Team One Asst. Platoon Commander DET GOLF Kilo Platoon 1967.
  • Vietnam SEAL Team Two Asst. Platoon Commander DET ALFA 9th Platoon 1969.
  • Europe   SEAL Team Two Platoon Commander DET Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Europe 6th Platoon 1972.

Silver Star - Bronze Star w/ Combat V - Purple Heart - 2 Navy Commendation Medals w/ Combat V - Two Navy Unit Commendations - Four Presidential Unit Citations - Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry - Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation w/ Palm - Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia - Combat Action Ribbon - Vietnam Service Medal, 3 Awards - Vietnam Campaign Medal - Korean Service Medal w/ 3 Stars - United Nations Service Medal - National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 Star - Good Conduct Medal w/ 3 Stars - Expert Rifle w/ silver "E" - Expert Pistol. 

Herbs usual personal weapon(s) choice was a CAR-15, K-BAR knife and a "hush-puppy."  Along with LAAW(s), various grenade types and Claymore mines.​

Davis County Utah Sheriff's Department

After leaving naval service Herb eventually tested for and was hired as a Deputy Sheriff. After attending Peace Officer Standards and Training [POST] he attended Emergency Medical Technician training. Ultimately Herb's talent and experience was vastly under used. The politics and jealousy of the rank and file stifled Herb. Most of the deputies did not know what a SEAL was or did. He was eventually given the ability to start and train deputies for a Dive Rescue Team on their own dime and time. They would practice cadaver recovery in Farmington Pond. Herb was also given preliminary permission to take the then fledgling SWAT team to Coronado to train with SEAL Team One operators, he never made it. Upon exiting active duty service with the Teams, Herb was given a clean bill of health and told he "had a heart of an 18 year old." He also passed, with flying colors, his pre-employment physical with the S.O. While attending the police academy Herb had a mild heart attack. Not to be stopped, he did finish his academy training and was the class honor man. Herb then took on the typical duties of a Sheriff's Deputy at that time. He continued his duties and was not feeling so great on some occasions, but that never stopped him from carrying on. On May 22, 1980 Herb was on patrol. We met at a convenience store at @ 2300 hrs. We then went to patrol the south county area and he stayed north. Within an hour we heard from dispatch that Herb had gone home not feeling well. The next communication was from dispatch calling a medical at my parents home. We raced over 25 miles up the interstate to get to Herb's home. He was in the bedroom and before he could remove his duty belt my mom said Herb's last words were "Oh God, I'm going to faint." Herb had passed before he hit the floor. He died with his uniform on. My brother, Jeffrey, attempted life saving techniques before the paramedics arrived, but to no avail. Dad's funeral was attended by hundreds. His procession to the cemetery was as a police funeral should be. He was buried with military and police honors and in attendance were Team Mates from Coronado; Bob Mabrey, Dale McClusky, Lee Dixon, Gene Wardrobe, Herschel Davis, and Jim Gerardin. All, who caught a flight from North Island Naval Air Station to Hill Air Force Base on a C-130. It was a very special funeral attended by a few special SEAL's.

"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"  



​© Bill Salisbury
San Diego Reader
December 2, 1999

...Time now to hear from Ed Gill, the UDT 12 officer who had his platoon shot out from under him within one week of reporting aboard for duty as a SEAL in Det Golf. Ed and the few remaining SEALs able to function after the VC ambushed their boat on the Vam Sat River cleared the kill zone and lived to fight another day. Ed and Chief Petty Officer Herb Ruth received Silver Stars for their heroism and Hearts for their wounds. As for the rest of the platoon, they had altogether too much time to bleed. Three of Ed's 12 men died.

"I had no idea," Ed said as we talked about the ambush and Jesse [Ventura] not long ago," of what was going on. We were hardly off the airplane at Tan Son Nhut [Air Base] when an officer who'd been in-country several months told me to jock up for a patrol. I'd played football with the guy at the [Naval] Academy and knew him then as very aggressive.

                                       "He was in charge of the mike boat and the operation.                                          We inserted about noon along the Vam Sat. On the way                                         to the insertion point, I noticed the river was heavily bunkered, but we didn't draw fire. If we had, we were pretty well armed: machine guns along each side of the boat, a Honeywell 40-millimeter grenade launcher on the coxswain's station, a 60 mortar and a 57 recoilless rifle on the stern. Boat was really slow with all that armament. Could make maybe six knots max.

"We inserted and hadn't patrolled more than 100 yards from the boat before the VC started sniping at us. Officer on the boat said to move forward. We did. Then someone got hit, not bad, and we retreated to the boat. "We went out the same way we came in, and the VC really slammed it to us from those bunkers. We returned fire. The noise was like nothing I've ever heard before or since.

"We somehow managed to clear the ambush with only a few more wounded. Then my teammate from the Academy decided to go back in and duke it out. That's when we got butchered. I was hit in the chin with shrapnel; the corpsman hauled me down behind the gunwale to stop the bleeding. Dan Mann, my assistant platoon leader, took my place and commenced firing. Next thing I know Dan tumbles down beside me dead. Shot through the ear, it looked like. I used to think he took the bullet meant for me. I don't think about that so much anymore.

"A B-40 [Rocket Propelled Grenade / RPG] or maybe a round from our 60 [Mortar] exploded overhead. I looked up at Herb Ruth on the Honeywell. His face had been scorched raw by flame, but he kept on grinding out the 40 mikemikes.

"We were able to break contact and call in dust-offs. One of my men, Don Boston, was dead and another, Bobby Neal, died a few days later. The rest of us were wounded in one way or another. Those of us who recovered and continued to operate for the next seven months got some payback, but nothing could ever make up for what happened to us on the Vam Sat.


Herb was 17 years old, from Soda Springs Idaho, when he joined the Navy in 1948.  He served 4 years, was out for 4 years and then re-entered Navy service.  He advanced from Seaman Recruit to Lieutenant through all pay grades except Chief Warrant Officer-4.

Herb, along with T.G. Alexander were the first two man day pick up from a raft at sea with the Fulton Skyhook recovery system on October 14, 1965 with an S2A "Tracker" fixed wing aircraft flying at 120 knots. Robert Fulton's Skyhook

Dad was an avid motorcycle enthusiast.  He owned a Harley Davidson, an Indian and then with the birth of too many kids he had to give up the motorcycles.  During a Naval Special Warfare tour in Europe he was able to purchase a BMW R75/5 direct from the BMW Motorcycle factory in Germany.

Dad was [I believe, at the time] one of the oldest individuals to be accepted into  Underwater Demolition Team - Replacement Training [UDT-R forerunner of BUD/S].  He was 34,  6 years over the present age limit and an E-7 Chief Petty Officer with no special operations experience.. 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 Underwater Demolition Team-11, he then transferred to SEAL Team One and served a tour in Vietnam in 1967, transferred to SEAL Team Two after graduation from Officer Candidate School, and his third Vietnam tour was in 1969.  He retired April 1976 as Lieutenant.