New memorial bridge sign honors Central PA guardsman
Members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and Senator Rob Teplitz unveiled a new memorial sign to honor one of their own. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Ruffner was killed when his Apache helicopter crashed in Afghanistan on April 9th, 2013. The memorial sign now hangs in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County over the bridge which was rebuilt after last year’s tanker fire. It’s also where Ruffner most recently lived.
“He meant everything to us he was a great son,” said Diane Ruffner of her son, as she fought back tears.
More than a year after their son’s death, Diane and Chuck Ruffner still remember some of their last conversations with the son they call a patriot.
“When he left on this deployment he said ,”Dad when I come back.. I’ll be here to help you with everything.” And I’m never going to get to see that,” said Chuck Ruffner.
While they still struggle with today’s reality, they now have another way to remember their son when they drive over a bridge..
“Any remembrance of him keeps a spark, of course you never do forget. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think of something,” said Chuck Ruffner.
“We can’t fit all that he accomplished as a guardsman on one sign but we can reflect now on his courageous contribution to this nation as we pay tribute to his memory,” says Sen. Rob Teplitz, who represents the 15th legislative district.
Major General Wesley Graig says Ruffner carved out a role as one of Pennsylvania’s most skilled instructor pilots. But, this memorial marker isn’t just an ordinary sign. Craig says it has a deeper meaning.
“His bridge is now part of the 28th division highway just like he is part of the 28th division history,” said Maj. Gen. Craig.
“It’s very fitting, I never put the two together until he mentioned it and I’m going yeah, yeah he would like that… he would like that,” said Chuck Ruffner.