Rufird Wayne entered the U.S. Army from Louisville, Ky. In 1966. He retired as a colonel in 1993 and now lives in Madison, Alabama. On 1 February 1968, then Warrant Officer Fowler distinguished himself piloting an OH-23 helicopter while assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division on an aerial reconnaissance mission near Thanh An, Republic of Vietnam. For his actions on that date he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight.
After locating a recently used base camp Warrant Officer Fowler hovered his aircraft over a bunker complex and conducted reconnaissance by fire. Intense fire erupted from the enemy position and he and his wingman marked the position for gunship strikes. Bringing his aircraft back over the enemy location to assess the damage after the gunships had completed a strike mission; he again came under hostile fire. Once more he marked the target with red smoke and dropped incendiary grenades. Throughout the afternoon, Warrant Officer Fowler’s relentless and courageous coverage kept the enemy from escaping. He guided armored personnel carriers into the area and provided cover for insertion of Troop D’s Aero-Rifle Platoon. The operation continued into the hours of darkness and he stayed on station to control the action from his aircraft, which was not equipped for night flight. Once the enemy had been defeated, he carefully guided the armored personnel carriers back to the main trail by using his searchlight. Ruford Wayne Fowler was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Army Commendation Medal for Valor on two other occasions while serving in Vietnam.