Ronald Eric Ray was born on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941 in Cordele, Georgia. He left high school in 1959 to enlisted in the U. S. Army in Atlanta, Georgia.
While still in the Army, Ray graduated from the University of Tampa and received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma. After leaving the military, he settled in Florida and established a career as a real estate broker. He founded Ronald E. Ray, Inc., a real estate development and brokerage company.
Through the White House Fellows program, Ray served as a special assistant to the U. S. Secretary of Commerce from 1974 to 1975. In 1989, President Bush appointed him as an assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a position Ray would hold until 1993.
Ray is a former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Ray distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Company A. When 1 of his ambush patrols was attacked by an estimated reinforced Viet Cong company, Capt. Ray organized a reaction force and quickly moved through 2 kilometers of mountainous jungle terrain to the contact area. After breaking through the hostile lines to reach the beleaguered patrol, Capt. Ray began directing the reinforcement of the site. When an enemy position pinned down 3 of his men with a heavy volume of automatic weapons fire, he silenced the emplacement with a grenade and killed 4 Viet Cong with his rifle fire. As medics were moving a casualty toward a sheltered position, they began receiving intense hostile fire. While directing suppressive fire on the enemy position, Capt. Ray moved close enough to silence the enemy with a grenade. A few moments later Capt. Ray saw an enemy grenade land, unnoticed, near 2 of his men. Without hesitation or regard for his safety he dove between the grenade and the men, thus shielding them from the explosion while receiving wounds in his exposed feet and legs. He immediately sustained additional wounds in his legs from an enemy machinegun, but nevertheless he silenced the emplacement with another grenade. Although suffering great pain from his wounds, Capt. Ray continued to direct his men, providing the outstanding courage and leadership they vitally needed, and prevented their annihilation by successfully leading them from their surrounded position. Only after assuring that his platoon was no longer in immediate danger did he allow himself to be evacuated for medical treatment. By his gallantry at the risk of his life in the highest traditions of the military service, Capt. Ray has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Only two months after finishing his enlistment, he rejoined the Army as a Special Forces soldier. Ray excelled in his training, such as that for HALO jumping, and was selected for Officer Candidate School. Upon graduation he became a commissioned officer.
He was sent to Vietnam in June of 1966 as a first lieutenant and platoon leader. After being injured and temporarily paralyzed in an engagement with an enemy force, he continued to lead his men until he was evacuated to a safe area. He was eventually returned to the States and stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for treatment. He was promoted to Captain and eventually to Lieutenant Colonel.
Medals and Awards
Medal of Honor
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