David R. Ray

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David Robert Ray
DavidRRay.jpg  A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.
David R. Ray as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman
Born (1945-02-14)February 14, 1945
McMinnville, Tennessee
Died March 19, 1969(1969-03-19) (aged 24)
Quảng Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1966–1969
Rank Hospital Corpsman Second Class
Unit Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines
Battles/wars Vietnam War 
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon

David Robert "Bobby" Ray (February 14, 1945 – March 19, 1969) was a United States Navy hospital corpsman second class who was killed in action during the Vietnam War while assigned to an artillery battery of the United States Marine Corps. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions above and beyond the call of duty on March 19, 1969.


Ray was born on February 14, 1945 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.

U.S. Navy[edit]

Vietnam War[edit]

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,[1] 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.

Death and burial[edit]

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,[2] 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.[1]

Ray was unmarried. His body was returned to the United States and was buried with full military honors in Mountain View Cemetery McMinnville, Tennessee.

Military decorations and awards[edit]

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.

Ray's military decorations and awards include:

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
National Defense Service Medal
Fleet Marine Force Combat Insignia.svgBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Vietnam Service Medal with FMF Combat Operations Insignia and three 316" bronze campaign stars
Republic of Vietnam Meritorios Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross) with palm and frame
Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Actions) with palm and frame
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960- device

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Hospital Corpsman Second Class, U.S. Navy, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), III Marine Amphibious Force. Place and date: Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam, March 19, 1969. Entered service at: Nashville, Tenn. Born: February 14, 1945, McMinnville, Tenn.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HM2 with Battery D, 2d Battalion, at Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa. During the early morning hours, an estimated battalion-sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the battery's position, and succeeded in effecting a penetration of the barbed-wire perimeter. The initial burst of enemy fire caused numerous casualties among the Marines who had immediately manned their howitzers during the rocket and mortar attack. Undaunted by the intense hostile fire, HM2 Ray moved from parapet to parapet, rendering emergency medical treatment to the wounded. Although seriously wounded himself while administering first aid to a Marine casualty, he refused medical aid and continued his lifesaving efforts. While he was bandaging and attempting to comfort another wounded Marine, HM2 Ray was forced to battle two enemy soldiers who attacked his position, personally killing one and wounding the other. Rapidly losing his strength as a result of his severe wounds, he nonetheless managed to move through the hail of enemy fire to other casualties. Once again, he was faced with the intense fire of oncoming enemy troops and, despite the grave personal danger and insurmountable odds, succeeded in treating the wounded and holding off the enemy until he ran out of ammunition, at which time he sustained fatal wounds. HM2 Ray's final act of heroism was to protect the patient he was treating. He threw himself upon the wounded Marine, thus saving the man's life when an enemy grenade exploded nearby. By his determined and persevering actions, courageous spirit, and selfless devotion to the welfare of his Marine comrades, HM2 Ray served to inspire the men of Battery D to heroic efforts in defeating the enemy. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.[3]

Other honors[edit]

Vietnam Veterans Memorial[edit]

Ray's name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall at panel 29W, row 082 in Washington, D.C.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://www.virtualwall.org/dr/RayDR01a.htm
  2. ^ http://thewall-usa.com/guest.asp?recid=42508
  3. ^ "Ray, David R.". Medal of Honor recipients: Vietnam War (M-Z). June 8, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2007.