> > Vietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
1st Lt.Ronald Eric RayVietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Captain Ronald Eric Ray, US Army
distinguished himself while serving as a platoon leader with Company A. When 1
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
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
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
platoon, plus a mortar squad, to cover the northern AO.
determined three likely enemy avenues of approach and set-up LPs to monitor them.He
also located a knoll, steep with clear terrain on three sides, and used that as a base of operations.From this Base a patrol walked the AO each morning and checked the various LPs.Lt.Ray
normally accompanied this patrol.
A few days prior to June 19, such a patrol discovered a fresh-cut trail near Hill 275, which was one of the areas earlier highlighted as being a likely avenue of approach for the NVA.Hill 275 was at approximately VA 810142 and within three kilometers of Cambodia.The trail was followed and a small NVA patrol was surprised, resulting in one enemy killed and another captured.Both NVA had fresh haircuts, were well fed, and well armed.Coupled with earlier indications of enemy activity, Lt.Ray
came to the conclusion that a large NVA movement could be anticipated in the area around Hill 275.The prisoner was sent to the rear and the CO was informed of the lieutenants suspicions.
On the morning of June 19, a patrol was instructed to recon near the Cambodian border and then to link-up with the most northern LP.That LP was established near a stream that crossed a main trail near Hill 275.The link-up was successfully made resulting in approximately ten men at the site.Around early afternoon the LP detected movement in the area.Lt.Ray
reported this development to the CO and instructed the LP to be prepared to pull back to Base.Almost immediately the LP came under intense small arms fire.Lt.Ray
instructed the LP to blow all claymores, disengage, move back toward the Base, and he
would head in their direction.Convinced that a major enemy unit was present, Lt.Ray
updated the CO. and asked for additional manpower.He
was told that there was no other unit close enough to reinforce in any reasonable time frame and also that consensus was this was a minor probe and not major enemy movement.
The LP then reported receiving withering fire from all sides with the RTO badly wounded.Lt.Ray
instructed them to stay put and he
would come to them.Due to the need to move fast, Lt.Ray
decided to leave the Mortar squad at the Base under SSG William H. Byrd Jr. Forming the remainder of his
men under Squad leaders SSG David A. Bynum and Sgt.
moved toward the embattled LP.This decision was driven both by the certain precariousness of the LPs situation and the fact that there were only a few hours of daylight left.
Due to the previous patrols, the area was fairly well known to Lt.Ray
reasoned they could take the main trail directly to Hill 275, then west to the contact point; or take a straight line approach which was shorter (about 2 Km) but would necessitate his
men breaking bush the whole way and thus might actually take longer.Reasoning that the enemy would be expecting reinforcement along the main trail, Lt.Ray
opted to go through the heavy terrain.
The men of this rescue team, realizing time was of the essence, sacrificed their bodies while rapidly breaking a human trail toward the beleaguered LP.Upon nearing the surrounded men, Lt.Ray
led the way up the slope and told his
men to use grenades and numerous small arm bursts in hopes of deceiving the NVA into thinking they were a large force.The ruse was successful as the enemy pulled back from the area of penetration and the rescue patrol was able to close with the LP.A quick assessment by Lt.Ray
found the LP intact, with only the RTO hit with a severe head wound.
Shortly thereafter the NVA regrouped and directed heavy fire at the group from two different locations.Lt.Ray
directed a squad to envelop and silence one of the enemy positions, but they were quickly pinned down near that position.Fearing their annihilation, Lt.Ray
moved on the enemy position and silenced it using his
shotgun and hand grenades.Aware of an opening up hill from which no fire was being received, Lt.Ray
then instructed the Medic to prepare the RTO for evacuation and called for a Medevac.As the Medic plus two men moved toward the anticipated LZ, they became pinned down by heavy fire.Lt.Ray
then realized the NVA were moving to surround his
force but still thought they were unaware of the exact size of that force.
Another squad maneuver was attempted to rescue the Medic and RTO, but they too came under heavy fire and were unable to move.In an attempt to cover the withdrawal of the Medic and RTO, Lt.Ray
moved past them, again using grenades and his
shotgun to silence the NVA while killing several.An enemy grenade was then thrown into the Medics and RTOs position.Lt.Ray
shouted a warning to them, but not seeing a reaction, he
dove over them and shielded them from the blasttaking considerable shrapnel.Turning toward the enemy position from where the grenade had been launched, Lt.Ray
was then hit in both legs by small arms fire but managed, with his
last grenade, to also silence this enemy position.His
wounds had now paralyzed his
lower body and the Medic managed to help Lt.Ray back to the perimeter.Aware of a lull in the fighting, Lt.Ray
ordered SSG Bynum to prepare a withdrawal in the direction from where the rescue patrol had camereasoning that the enemy may not have yet reinforced that sector.Lt.Ray
offered to stay behind and cover the withdrawal if needed.At that point Sgt.Burdine stepped forward and volunteered to carry Lt.Ray
, those two being the last to leave.The Americans met only minor resistance going back down the slope and eventually reached a suitable LZ about two klicks to the northeast; Sgt.Burdine carried Lt.Ray
the entire journey.
Lt. Ray and the RTO, PFC Vincent Moeller, were both evacuated a short time later with Pfc.Moeller dying during the Medevac.Lt.Ray
was initially operated on at Pleiku and later was sent back to Womack Army Hospital
at Ft. Bragg for further treatment.
Lt. Ray certainly exhibited in spades all the traits needed in a junior officer; leadership, sound judgement while under fire, a mastery of small unit tactics, and lastly; deep, selfless concern for the welfare of his
thoughts on the direction of the main enemy thrust also proved accurate as the remainder of A, 2/35 went back to the general location of Hill 275 the next day and suffered heavy casualties.