Two Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in the Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, April 9.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Ruffner, 34, of Harrisburg, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jarett Yoder, 27, of Mohnton, were piloting an AH-64 Apache Helicopter during a reconnaissance mission when their aircraft crashed. The incident is under investigation.
The soldiers were serving with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s Company B, 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, based at Fort Indiantown Gap. The battalion mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan in August 2012.
“Susan and I offer our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Matthew Ruffner and Jarett Yoder, who died serving their country,” said Governor Tom Corbett. “We pray for the safe return of the thousands of Pennsylvania National Guard members currently deployed, and we are grateful to each one of them and their families for the sacrifices they are making on our nation’s behalf.”
Ruffner was a 1997 graduate of London High School in London, Ohio. He graduated in 2003 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in criminology. He was most recently employed as a full-time Apache instructor pilot for the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility at Fort Indiantown Gap.
He joined the military in 1997, serving initially as a mechanic in the Army Reserve’s 705th Transportation Company in Dayton, Ohio, before transferring to the Army National Guard’s 110th Infantry in Indiana, Pa. Ruffner completed warrant officer training and transferred to the aviation career field in 2005 serving as an aviation life support equipment officer, tactical operations officer and instructor pilot. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, three Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals and the Parachutist Badge.
Yoder was a 2005 graduate of Oley Valley High School in Oley, Pa., and attended Reading Community College.
He joined the military in 2005. He first served in Company C, 1st Battalion 111th Infantry as an infantryman. He was deployed in 2008 to Iraq with Company C and the rest of the 56th Stryker Brigade. He entered the aviation career field in 2010 and served as an aviation life support equipment officer and Apache pilot. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Driver and Mechanic Badge.
“The Pennsylvania Army National Guard has lost two of its own,” said Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, adjutant general of Pennsylvania. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with the Ruffner and Yoder families. We will support them in their hour of great need. We celebrate the lives of these two Army aviators. They died helping others to be free.”
Jarett’s wife Heather Garay-Yoder has released the following statement: “Jarett is my American Hero. He always dreamed of being an Apache pilot and he followed those dreams to continue to fight for our country. Jarett died doing what he loved and dreamed of doing, a true hero. There are so many people who love him and we will never forget. I love you, always and forever. Your loving wife, Heather.”