Charles A. Ray
Charles Aaron Ray (born 1945) finished his 50-year career of public service in 2012 as the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe. He is a former Foreign Service Officer and career member of the Senior Foreign Service who held the position of U.S. Ambassador twice, and retired with the rank of Minister-Counselor. He is also a retired U.S. Army officer who was decorated twice for his actions in combat during the Vietnam War, and later served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs.
Early life, education, and military service
Born in Center, Texas, Ray earned his Bachelor's degree from Benedictine College in 1972, his Master of Science from the University of Southern California, and his second Master of Science from the National Defense University.
Ray joined the United States Army in 1962 and retired 20 years later with the rank of major. During his time with the Army, he served in Vietnam (1968–1969, 1972–1973), Germany, Okinawa, and South Korea. In the course of his 20-year Army career, he earned two Bronze Stars and an Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Medal.
Early diplomatic career
After retiring from the Army in 1982, Ray went to work for the U.S. State Department. During his tenure at the State Department, he served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and at the U.S. Consulate General Offices in Guangzhou and Shenyang, China. In 1998, he became the first U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Ambassador to Cambodia
Return to Texas
After serving in Cambodia, Ray returned to Texas to become diplomat-in-residence at the University of Houston, where he recruited students to serve in the State Department and the Foreign Service. In that capacity, he was also responsible for community affairs and outreach with high schools and civic groups.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
In September 2006, President Bush appointed Ray as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs. He reported to Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates on administrative and policy matters relating to missing personnel. He was also responsible for creating policies and procedures for determining the status of all Americans missing in action, including rescuing all Americans endangered by combat operations.
Ambassador to Zimbabwe
President Barack Obama nominated Ray as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe on August 5, 2009. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn into office on October 20, 2009. He arrived at his post in Harare on December 9, 2009. His assignment in Harare ended in summer 2012. He returned to the United States, and on September 1, 2012, retired from public service.
In June 2008, Ray's first book, Things I Learned From My Grandmother About Leadership and Life, was published. His second book, Taking Charge: Effective Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, was published in March 2009. He has also authored a number of works of fiction.
- "Cambodia". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
- "Ambassador Charles A. Ray". United States Department of State, U.S. Embassy Harare. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
- Brinkerhoff, Noel (December 23, 2009). "Ambassador to Zimbabwe: Who is Charles Ray?". AllGov. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
- Ray, Charles. "About me". Helium. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.
- Official Blog of Ambassador Charles A. Ray
- United States Department of State: Official Biography of Charles A. Ray
- United States Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe