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David R. Ray

Biography

David Robert "Bobby" Ray (Feb. 14, 1945 – March 19, 1969) was born to David F. and Donnie M. Ray of McMinnville, Tennessee. He graduated from City High School in McMinnville in 1963. He was a University of Tennessee Alumni Scholarship winner and attended classes at the Knoxville campus from 1963 to 1966. He also received an associate in arts degree in 1965 from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. A memorial to Ray was placed on the Cumberland campus in 2003 in honor of his service and sacrifice.

Ray enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Nashville, Tennessee on March 28, 1966 and reported to Recruit Training Command, Naval Training Center, San Diego, California. Afterwards, he attended the former Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego and became a hospital corpsman and promoted to hospitalman on June 20. His first assignment as a corpsman was aboard the USS Haven where he was promoted to hospital corpsman third class on April 16, 1967. In December, following his tour on the hospital ship, he was assigned to the former U.S. Naval Hospital in Long Beach, California, where he was promoted to hospital corpsman second class.

In May 1968, Ray requested a tour of duty with the Fleet Marine Force and was sent to Field Medical Service School, Camp Pendleton, California, to become a FMF corpsman upon successful completion of the course. On July 12, he was sent to and arrived in South Vietnam, and was assigned to Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), located at An Hoa, South Vietnam.

In the early morning of March 19, 1969, Fire Support Base Phu Loc 6, located on a hill adjacent to Liberty Bridge near An Hoa in Quảng Nam province and the command post of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines located near them, were both attacked by an estimated battalion of North Vietnamese soldiers. Ray, the senior corpsman for Battery D, moved from parapet to parapet during the enemy's attack on and at their position rendering medical aid to the wounded Marines. While doing this he was seriously wounded and then had to confront two enemy soldiers attacking his position, killing one and wounding another. After he refused to be aided by the other Battery D corpsman, he continued his lifesaving efforts under oncoming enemy fire.

Ray's final act of heroism was aiding and protecting a wounded Marine after he had run out of ammunition. He placed himself upon the Marine after he saw an enemy thrown grenade land near them. Ray died after the grenade blast, while the Marine he sacrificed his life for, lived. Ray and eleven Marines from Battery D and two Marines and one Navy corpsman from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines command post, were killed in the attack.

Ray was unmarried. His body was returned to the United States and was buried with full military honors in Mountain View Cemetery McMinnville, Tennessee. Ray was posthumously presented the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony on April 20, 1970, with his father accepting the medal on his son's behalf from Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.

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Information

  • Rank: Hospital Corpsman Second Class
  • Branch: Navy
  • UT Major/Affiliation: UTK, 1963-1966
  • Hometown: McMinnville