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Norbert C. Ruff
8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron
P-39 / P-400 Airacobra and P-38 Lightning Pilot

In memory: Norbert C. Ruff passed away on November 28, 2007

Norbert C. Ruff was born on June 4, 1919 to parents Edward and Helena Ruff in Bloomer, Chippewa County, Wisconsin. Nicknamed "Norb". On April 25, 1941 he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with serial number 16022082. He completed flight training with class 41-I and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, to the 49th Pursuit Group, 7th Pursuit Squadron to fly P-40E Warhawks. None of the new pilots were able to fly, as their Warhawks were being disassembled and crated for shipment overseas, with pilots and ground crews going overseas aboard the USS Mariposa, a former cruise ship of the Matson Line, pressed into service for the military.

In Australia, Norb continued training and ferrying planes. Before he saw any combat. In March 17, 1942 he was assigned to to the 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron. He flew the P-39 and P-400 Airacobra, and continued training. The 80th Fighter Squadron served as a replacement pool for the 8th Figher Group (8th FG) squadrons deployed in New Guinea. Unlike popular perceptions, Norb enjoyed the P-39 Airacobra for its easy of takeoff and operation, but acknowledge: "it needed a supercharger, but so did the P-40."

In early 1943, the 80th Fighter Squadron transitioned to the P-38 Lightnings at Mareeba Airfield. Ruff was assigned and nicknamed P-38G "Ruff Stuff" 43-2212. and flew at least 50 combat missions until September 1943 when he returned to the United States.

On September 15, 1943 Ruff took off from 3 Mile Drome near Port Moresby leading the third flight on a fighter sweep over Wewak ahead of a bombing mission by B-24 Liberators from the 90th Bombardment Group (90th BG). Flying as his wingman was P-38G 42-12709 piloted by 2nd Lt. Richard S. Strommen flying his second combat mission. Inbound to the target one of the P-38s in his flight aborted the mission. Arriving over Wewak at 20'000', enemy fighters were spotted flying low in various sectors with the largest number over the sea between 10,000' to 16,000'. The P-38s released their drop tanks and unobserved and dove into the fighters. During the first run, his wingman 2nd Lt. Richard S. Strommen became seporated and was hit by gunfire and few back alone until he ran low on fuel and bailed out but was rescued after a week.

Aerial victory claims
Ruff was officially credited with four aerial victories between July 23, 1943 to September 15, 1943. He claimed all his victory claims piloting a P-38 Lightning.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
1 07/23/43     First aerial victory claim.
2 09/13/43     Second aerial victory claim.
3 09/13/43     Third aerial victory claim.
4 09/15/43 Wewak   Fourth aerial victory claim.

Ruff achieved the rank of Major before he retired from the military. He and his brother Richard co-founded Catalytic Combustion Corporation, an air correction technologies firm and was later he was involved with several other business ventures. In the 2000s, he collaborated with Tina Susedik to write and publish his memoirs as Ruff Stuff (2006).

Ruff passed away on November 28, 2007 at age 88. He is buried at Saint Paul and Saint Jude North Catholic Cemetery in Bloomer, WI.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Norbert C. Ruff
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Ruff Norbert C page 164 (PDF page 171), 343 (PDF page 249), Alphabetical list by theater of operation (SWP) Ruff Norbert C.: 07/23/43 page 340 (PDF page 346), 09/13/43 (two victories) and 09/15/43 page 345 (PDF page 351)
Ruff Stuff (2006) by Tina Susedik with Norbert C. Ruff
FindAGrave - Norbert C. Ruff (photos, grave photos)
Thanks to Norbert C. Ruff for additional information

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