Does gunshot come with those grits?

That’s not usually a menu option when Staff Sgt. Russell Ruth met up with friends for brunch at the Brewer’s Sports Pub and Grill, across the street from his home in Savannah, Georgia.

But this was no ordinary brunch.

As Ruth was getting ready to dig into breakfast, he heard a commotion at the back of the restaurant, just a few yards from where he was sitting.

“I heard a scream in the back. I didn’t know what it was, then I heard another scream,” Ruth told Army Times.

One of the restaurant servers came running from the back toward the dining area, wide-eyed in terror. She was so panicked, she tripped and fell. The six-combat deployment veteran instantly knew something was terribly wrong.

Then he saw a masked man waving a sawed-off shotgun, yelling, “This is a robbery, nobody move!”

The suspect disappeared around the corner of the hallway with the restaurant owner.

Ruth’s training kicked in. He quickly helped the other nine patrons and staff near him out the front entrance to safety, where they ran across a side street.

Then the Ranger did what all brave warriors do. They run to the sound of gunfire.

He approached, unarmed, where he’d heard the scream.

Ruth was worried about the owner in the back, but thought perhaps he’d seen signs the robber was nervous. If he could get an open path, he might be able to disarm the guy and take him down.

Ruth used a maneuver he’d done countless times in close-quarters shooting drills — the only difference is, in those drills he’d had a gun.

Ruth quietly proceeded along the short hallway and peered around the corner.

Carefully, he took an angle to see if he could see what was going on without being seen.

The robber was standing in the doorway to the restaurant owner’s office, his back turned.

Realizing he had just seconds to act, Ruth lurched forward and landed a solid punch to the man’s head, knocking him to the ground and briefly unconscious.

Then he covered the man to keep him down and separate him from his weapon.

But there was one thing he didn’t see.

The robber had a partner, inside the office with a 9mm pistol. The accomplice shot Ruth, with the bullet entering his chest and exiting his back.

Ruth didn’t immediately feel the shot but knew he’d been hit. The bad guys fled out the back of the restaurant.

Ruth got up and ran outside as well where his friends and fellow diners were huddled.

“I’m holding my side, hunched over and I’m thinking, ‘OK, I have a collapsed lung,’” he said.

As the pain finally washed over him, he knew it was bad.

Ruth stayed conscious long enough to say his lung was punctured, showed his friends where to apply pressure and told them to call an ambulance before he passed out.

Miraculously there was a nurse and Navy veteran among the crowd whom Ruth credits with helping keep him alive until emergency responders could arrive.

Ruth has been through five Afghanistan and one Iraq deployment, and had seen rounds fired but never been hit himself.

But he has survived and thrived. After he completed his 10-month recovery he began the transition to warrant officer and flight school.

Warrant Officer 1 Ruth is now training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to become an Army helicopter pilot.

Nine Line’s CEO, Tyler Merritt, shares a special bond with Russell Ruth. Merritt was a Night Stalker in the 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment, flying Blackhawk helicopters in close air support for Rangers, Delta Force, Special Forces and Navy SEALs.

And now the Savannah, GA neighbors both have scars.

“He’s my ranger scar buddy, Merritt says. “We have the same scar — mine from a knife, his from a gun. He’s a good human.”

That he is. And a hero too.

5 Responses

  1. Brenda

    Thank you both! ❤❤ glad you both are here to show off your sexy battle scars

    Reply
  2. Nikki

    What an amazing story. Thank you sir for your service to our county, and for the selfless act of saving innocent lives. You sir are a true hero. God Bless to you with all future endeavors.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Nygren

    Thank you Warrant Officer Ruth for your bravery, service to our country, and to your community!

    Reply
  4. Mary Beth Pearce

    No words can describe the appreciation in my heart. Thank God for guys like you. Forever grateful American here. ❤️

    Reply

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