BRANDENBURG, KY (WAVE) - Two Army buddies whose careers have played out 30 years apart share an admiration that spans the generations. The younger friend, Staff Sergeant Josh Ruth, who is a little more than seven years into his military career, came up with a surprise to honor his 80-year-old buddy, Ray Cottrell, Senior.
In his life, Cottrell has made a lot of friends and countless people stand in awe of his accomplishments
"His war record kind of speaks for itself," Ruth said.
Cottrell has his awards displayed in his Brandenburg car dealership. "Silver Stars, this next one is the Bronze Star. Next to that is the Purple Heart."
Cottrell and Ruth struck up a friendship. "They kind of see him and they see me and they're like, 'What are those two in there talking about?' because the generation gap," Ruth said.
Instead of being separated by the years, they are bound by their U.S. Army Infantry service.
"First of all he's a soldier, and all soldiers are my friends," Cottrell said.
"It doesn't matter where you are or what stage of your life, having served the same purpose. That's the tie that binds," said Ruth.
So last year, when Josh received the National Infantry Association's Order of Saint Maurice, he thought of his friend Ray.
"The things that he's done in the serving the infantry, serving the army, our country, this community, and being an all around great guy," Ruth said.
He nominated Cottrell for the same award. The day after the Fourth of July, the two men, brought together by service to America, forged a new connection as Ruth presented Cottrell with the highest level of the Order of Saint Maurice.
"Usually an award like this is given, a peer or someone in a higher rank looks down and says this guy really deserves an award like that," Ruth said. "So it was very special for me as a staff sergeant to be able to award this to a command sergeant major."
For Cottrell, in a lifetime of accomplishments, this one lands near the top.
"It means as much to me as the one I got from a four-star general for the Silver Star for him to come up and do this," Cottrell said.
Ruth is headed back to University of Louisville, where he played a couple of years on the Cards football team before he enlisted. Cottrell said he'd like to see him move forward and enjoy a long Army career.
To learn more about National Infantry Association awards, click here.
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