Russell R. Rufer was born in 1947 in Huntsville, Alabama. After training to become a helicopter crewchief, Specialist 4 Russell Rufer was assigned to the 170th Assault Helicopter Company in the Republic of Vietnam in 1968. On 16 December 1968, Specialist Rufer's helicopter was on approach to a refueling point at Dak To Airfield when another helicopter crashed nearby. His aircaraft commander landed the helciopter near the scene of the crash. Specialist Rufer jumped from his ship and ran towards the inverted helicopter. Disregarding the possible dangers that he was exposing himself to, he noticed that fuel was spewing from the refueling hoses and that the aircraft's engine was still running. He dashed amidst the highly flammable fuel and turned it and the engine off. Specialist Rufer then proceeded to help the crew out of the aircraft. Specialist Rufer's calm actions on this date earned him the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for valor.