1969 SEAL Team Two

 Detachment Alfa

9th Platoon - Bravo Squad

[With Vietnamese Squad Members of Dubious Loyalties]

UDT-R TRAINING CLASS 32 - 30 MAR 64 to 07 AUG 64


Lieutenant Herbert  M. Ruth

1930 - 1980

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 Kilo Platoon from SEAL Team One


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

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

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 Rung 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. 

  • All photos copyright of Herb Ruth Collection. 
  • SEAL logos copyright of the respective organization.
  • Used by permission.

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 [landing craft mechanized] 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 the sound of enemy automatic weapons fire pierced the air.  This time the SEALs were the ones 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 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."