Congressman Robert Pittenger

Representing the 9th District of North Carolina
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Pittenger honors 100-year-old Pearl Harbor hero

Nov 6, 2013
Press Release
November 6, 2013


MATTHEWS – On December 7, 1941, then-Navy Ensign and current Matthews resident Wesley H. Ruth was eating breakfast at Pearl Harbor when he heard the first bombs fall.  As the pilot for an unarmed photography squadron, Mr. Ruth might have been expected to take cover.
Instead, Mr. Ruth ran to his plane and took off on a risky surveillance mission, using his unarmed, non-combat plane to search for the powerful Japanese fleet.  While he never found the fleet, his plane may have been the closest American aircraft to the Japanese fleet on the “day of infamy.”
In recognition of his extraordinary bravery and heroism, Mr. Ruth was awarded the Navy Cross.
Today, in recognition of his 100th birthday, Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) will present Commander Wesley H. Ruth, USN, Ret., with a United States flag, which Congressman Pittenger had flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor.
“On December 7, 1941, America was sucker-punched by a conquest-hungry Japanese empire,” said Congressman Pittenger.  “The bravery displayed by Commander Ruth is a strong example of why the forces of freedom were able to prevail over the forces of evil.  Disregarding his own safety, Commander Ruth took off on what easily could have been a suicide mission, committed to defending our freedom.
“Today, and every day, we should be thankful for Commander Ruth and his fellow members of the Greatest Generation, who stood up to tyranny, sacrificing so much so that we can enjoy the blessings of freedom and prosperity today.”
Congressman Pittenger will present Commander Ruth with the flag during a special ceremony at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon at Plantation Estates in Matthews (701 Plantation Estates Dr.).