EAA Warbirds of America is saddened to learn that Norbert C. Ruff, Bloomer, Wisconsin, passed away on November 28, at the age of 88. Norbert, a WWII fighter pilot, attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 where he participated in the Warbirds in Review program to share his experiences flying the Lockheed P-38 Lightning in the South Pacific Theater of Operations. It was a special day, as the Ruff family joined hundreds of AirVenture attendees to watch the nose art being applied by hand to Ron Fagen’s newly restored P-38. The P-38 was appropriately named Ruff Stuff in Norbert’s honor.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1940 and graduated from pilot training in December 1941, just one day before the Pearl Harbor attack. Norbert shipped out to the Pacific and served with the 80th Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron, 8th Pursuit (Fighter) Group, which was known as the “Headhunters.” He achieved four aerial combat victories during his tour.
Recently, Norbert wrote a book outlining his military service years, titled Ruff Stuff—A WW-II Pilots Story.
He is survived by his wife, Rose Eileen, four daughters, a son, and six grandchildren. EAA Warbirds of America sends its condolences and deepest sympathies to Norbert’s family and friends.
Artists paint the nose art on the P-38 "Ruff Stuff" during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007.
Norb Ruff explains the flight characteristics of the P-38 during the Warbirds In Review Program during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007