Ronald Eric Ray: A Hero's Journey from the Battlefield to Civilian Leadership

Ronald Eric Ray, born on December 7, 1941, is a distinguished figure in American military history. A former United States Army officer, Ray's valor and leadership during the Vietnam War earned him the nation's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor. Beyond his military service, Ray has played a significant role in civilian life, contributing to both the business world and public service.

Early Life and Struggles: Hailing from Cordele, Georgia, Ray grew up as one of five brothers. His journey into the military began in 1959 when he enlisted in the United States Army. Displaying exceptional skills, Ray's dedication led him to join the Special Forces after completing his initial three-year term. His prowess in training, including specialized programs like HALO jumping, caught the attention of military leaders, resulting in his selection for Officer Candidate School and subsequent commissioning.

Military Enlistment and Heroics: Deployed to South Vietnam in 1966 as a first lieutenant, Ray's leadership shone in Company A of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. The defining moment of his military career occurred during an operation in the Ia Drang Valley. Facing intense enemy fire, Ray displayed exceptional courage by leading his platoon through dense jungle terrain to rescue besieged comrades. His actions, including storming a hostile machine gun nest and shielding fellow soldiers from grenades, exemplified his unwavering commitment.

Defining Moment: Ray's Medal of Honor citation vividly recounts his conspicuous gallantry, emphasizing his fearless actions in the face of overwhelming odds. His quick thinking, strategic leadership, and selfless acts, such as diving between a grenade and his men, showcased the essence of a true hero.

Post-War Life and Career: After being evacuated for medical treatment, Ray's journey continued beyond the battlefield. He earned a degree from the University of Tampa and a master's in public administration from the University of Oklahoma. Settling in Florida, he established himself as a successful real estate broker, founding Ronald E. Ray, Inc.

Military Awards and Decorations: Ray's exemplary service didn't go unnoticed. In 1970, President Richard Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Ia Drang Valley. Ray retired from the Army in 1980 as a lieutenant colonel, concluding three tours in Vietnam. His commitment to service extended to his role as the former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Conclusion: Ronald Eric Ray's life is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who serve their country. From the battlefields of Vietnam to civilian leadership roles, Ray's journey exemplifies courage, sacrifice, and dedication. His legacy serves as an inspiration for future generations, a reminder of the extraordinary individuals who shape the history of the United States through their selfless service and leadership.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.