I am The 908th: 1st Lt. Terry Ruff

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric M. Sharman
  • 908th Airlift Wing

Peering at the poster on his office wall, 1st Lt. Terry Ruff, 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron director of operations, had a pensive look on his face as he weighed his answer carefully. Each superhero on the poster had unique attributes, and personality traits that had to be considered.

“I’d say…I identify with Spider-Man the most,” said Ruff, “His sense of responsibility has always resonated with me; I’ve always been driven to do the right thing.”

Like the wall-crawling superhero he identifies with, his journey began as a teenager. Ruff enlisted in the Air Force at 17 years old and turned 18 during basic training. He then went on to train as an aircraft hydraulics systems specialist on the KC-135.

While he initially joined the Air Force as a means to pay for college, his experience on his first deployment revealed a passion for service and motivated him to be the best version of himself that he could be.

“After my first deployment I realized that I loved being in the Air Force. After knowing the impact I had on the mission, it clicked for me, that it would be a detriment to myself and those around me if I didn’t step up and do the best I can do,” said Ruff.

Wanting to do the best he could, he sought a commission. After several attempts, the Lugoff, South Carolina native was awarded a deserving Airman commission while on temporary duty to the United Kingdom in 2019 and attended Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama in 2020. He was recently recognized as the 908th Airlift Wing Company Grade Officer of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2023.

Now settled in Alabama and married, he plans soon to continue his education and pursue a doctorate in business administration.

“Just like Spider-Man, I want to keep improving on myself to be better and better,” said Ruff. “That sense of responsibility is something that’s going to stay with me, always.”