|Birth: ||Nov. 10, 1949|
|Death: ||Nov. 30, 1969, Cambodia|
Staff Sgt. Ray had a strong desire to get himself into the military. His father had been a Marine and Ray had always wanted to follow in that service. He first tried to enlist with the United States Marine Corps at the age of 16, after he left school at Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Junior High School. He made it into training at Parris Island in South Carolina, but after identifying the age discrepancy several weeks later, the Marines quickly discharged him and sent him back to Woonsocket. At the age of 17 1/2, he signed up with the Army, his mother signing the papers. He was assigned to a military advisor unit helping South Vietnamese Army forces in Lam Dong Province. The MACV Team 38 unit was made up of nine U.S. military personnel, including two Navy medics. He was captured on March 18, 1968 for which he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He attempted escape twice and was awarded the Silver Star. He died on November 30, 1969, and was awarded the Purple Heart and The Bronze Star. His remains have never been found. James is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall on Panel 45E, Row 28. In September of 2007, his family, friends and fellow veterans placed a memorial headstone for James at Arlington National Cemetery.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to James Michael Ray, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against an armed enemy while serving as a Prisoner of War in South Vietnam during the period June and July 1969. Sergeant Ray distinguished himself by attempting to escape from an enemy prison camp. He recognized that odds for success were slight and if he was recaptured he would receive severe torture, long periods of solitary confinement, and possible death by execution. Although he was recaptured, he maintained strong conviction in the Code of Conduct. In June 1969, Sergeant Ray was punished for violation of camp regulations by being placed in double chains, one on each ankle. Then in July 1969 while en route to the latrine, he attempted to escape by assaulting a guard. At that time, he had a chain locked to each ankle and was carrying the excess chain in each hand. As he approached the guard sitting on a stool in the guard hooch. he suddenly stopped, dropped the chains, and hit the guard in the face with his fist, knocking him from the stool to the ground. He then reached and grabbed the guard's rifle and started to turn when he slipped and fell. As Sergeant Ray fell to the ground, the additional guard who unlocked him jumped on him, wrapping the chain around his neck and began beating him with his fist. The guard who had been knocked to the ground got up and started to kick and beat on Sergeant Ray. Then both guards wrapped Sergeant Ray in the chains and locked them and then threw him into his bunker. He was left over- night wrapped in the chains and the next day he was again secured to his bunker with two chains, one attached to each ankle. He was not allowed outside his bunker, and his rations were cut to one meal a day. Shortly after this, he was removed from the camp and was never seen again. This extreme gallantry exhibited by Sergeant Ray was amply illustrated by the fact that so few prisoners ever tried to escape, primarily due to the rigid security measures imposed by the camp. This courageous escape attempt served more than to merely get him out of the prison camp. More guards were required, and prisoner morale soared. This act of gallantry, with recognition of the grave risk to his own life, demonstrated a great devotion to duty and his country, which reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Army.
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section MK Site 83 (cenotaph)
Created by: Sue
Record added: Sep 23, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21714361