During 2019, Freedoms Foundation and the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove are paying tribute to the living recipients of the Medal of Honor on the anniversary of the actions for which they earned the nation’s highest award for valor. The series continues with Capt. Ronald E. Ray, whose unit came under attack by a large enemy force on June 19, 1966, in the Ia Drang Valley in South Vietnam.
Ronald Ray’s Medal of Honor citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Ronald Eric Ray distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Company A.
“When one 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 three of his men with a heavy volume of automatic-weapons fire, he silenced the emplacement with a grenade and killed four 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 two 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.”
The story continues in Peter Collier’s Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty:
“Ray was medevaced to Pleiku and operated on there, then sent to Fort Bragg, where he spent six months in the hospital. In 1970, he was at Fort Benning, Georgia, when the commanding general told him that he was to receive the Medal of Honor. It was presented to him by President Richard Nixon on May 14, 1970. He was retired from the military for medical reasons in 1980 and served as an assistant secretary for the Department of Veteran Affairs from 1989 to 1993.”
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