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Fallen Pa. soldier to be buried Saturday, flags fly at half-staf - abc27 WHTM

Fallen Pa. soldier to be buried Saturday, flags fly at half-staff

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A Harrisburg resident killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on April 9 will be buried on Saturday.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Paul Ruffner's funeral service will be held in his hometown of Punxsutawney, Pa. in Jefferson County on Saturday afternoon. He will be buried later that day in Clearfield County with full military honors.

Ruffner died alongside hi co-pilot and fellow Pennsylvania Guardsman Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jarett Yoder, 26, of Mohnton. They were both members of the 1-104th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion who deployed to Afghanistan last August.

According to the Pa. National Guard's Twitter account, Yoder will be buried on Monday.

Governor Tom Corbett has ordered Pennsylvania and U.S. flags at the Capitol complex and at state facilities in Indiana County to half-staff on Saturday. All Pennsylvanians are invited to join in the tribute. The flags should remain at half-staff until sunset.

Flags will also be lowered to half-staff the day of Ruffner's burial. 

Before deploying, Ruffner was a full-time Apache instructor pilot for the Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility at Fort Indiantown Gap. He was on his first deployment when the helicopter he was piloting the helicopter crashed. 

He is survived by his parents Charles and Diane, his brother Jeffrey, nieces Caitlin and Cara,  three aunts, two uncles, numerous cousins and his long-time sweetheart Jackeline Bignardi, according to his obituary on PennLive.com

Ruffner was a 1997 graduate of London High School in Ohio and later graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Decorated with the Army Achievement Medal, three Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals and the Parachutist Badge, he originally joined the military in 1997 as a mechanic Ohio. He later transferred to Indiana, Pa. where he completed warrant officer training.

Sergeant William Fletcher is a mechanic who worked alongside Ruffner and Yoder at Fort Indiantown Gap. He said the two men were exemplary officers, which showed through when a rain storm rolled through the area. 

"We had to go out and tie up some of the helicopters," he said. "Chief Yoder and Matt Ruffner were both out there helping us out, and you usually don't see pilots getting their uniforms wet ... It's just something these guys were known for. They would do anything to help out and keep the mission going."

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