Clark L. (Nick) Ruffner, 79, a retired Army general who was a highly decorated combat veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, died July 26 at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He had cancer.

During World War II, he participated in the amphibious assault on the Gilbert Islands and was with the initial waves of troops that went ashore on Leyte, in the Philippines, for which he received the Silver Star Medal.

During the Korean conflict, he was chief of staff of X Corps, then in January 1951 was named commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. During the time he commanded the division, it received the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation. Gen. Ruffner was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's highest decoration for bravery except for the Medal of Honor, for his action against the enemy in May 1951.

After leaving Korea in September 1951, he became commanding general of the Army's forces in the Pacific. Later in the 1950s, he served as chief of military assistance advisory group in West Germany and as commanding general of the 3rd Army. In March 1960, he received his fourth star and became U.S. representative to the Military Committee and Standing Group of NATO.

After retiring from active duty in 1962, he became an officer of the L&N Coastline Railroads in Atlanta for five years. He had homes in Washington and Lake Toxaway, N.C.

Gen. Ruffner was born in Buffalo, N.Y. After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1924, he received an Army cavalry commission. His early assignments included command of a unit of Apache scouts and a post as assistant professor of military science and tactics at Norwich University in Vermont. Between World War II and the Korean conflict, his posts included that of chief of the Army's legislative and liaison division at the Pentagon.

Survivors include his wife, the former Elizabeth Morris, of Washington and Lake Toxaway; a son, Ernest L., of Arlington; a daughter, Genevieve Stirling of Chevy Chase; a sister, Gretchen O'Daniel of San Diego, and six grandchildren.