Walter graduated from Onalaska High School in 1985 where he was active in academics especially science and math; multiple sports, most notably a 4-year letterman in track; and Concert and Show Choir.
He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and then earned a graduate degree from Central Michigan University in Business Administration. He attended Army flight school where he learned to fly, and over his 30 years became rated in five different helicopters. Brigadier General Walter Rugen’s first assignment as a Platoon Leaders was in Chun’Cheon, Republic of Korea, after which he was assigned back to the United States and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, KY where he commanded a Blackhawk Helicopter Company.
BG Rugen was then assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in 1995, where he continued to serve for thirteen years. From 2000-2002 he commanded a Special Operations Company at Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Puerto Rico and flew extensively in Central/South America and the Caribbean. In 2003 he transitioned to become the battalion operations officer for 3rd Battalion of the 160th in Savannah, GA, where he deployed to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 worked as a strategic planner at Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, FL. In 2007 BG Rugen commanded 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment and again deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, flying during the height of the surge in both theaters.
From 2009-2011 BG Rugen was assigned to the Army Staff in the Pentagon, where he worked on multiple strategic issues affecting Army Aviation. In 2011 he was designated an academic Fellow and served at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, DC Think Tank. From 2012-2014 he commanded the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, in Pyeong’tek, Republic of Korea. He then transitioned back to the Pentagon where he became the Chief Aviation Force Development and theDirector of Materiel overseeing all Army modernization investments.
Upon promotion, he left the Pentagon and served as the 7th Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Currently, he is the Director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team stationed at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where his team is leading the effort to develop, build, and field two new Army rotorcraft and multiple unmanned aircraft over the next decade.
Walter is happily married to the former Ms. Leigh Anne Bolling from Clarksville, TN and they have three wonderful children, Victoria, Jacob, and Wesley.
Induction Classification: Class of 1985
Induction Year: 2018