Ray Lee Penland, Jr

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
12 April 1949 - 26 May 1968
Seadrift, Texas
Panel 66W Line 011


Ray L Penland

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ray Lee Penland, Jr

23 Nov 2001

Palacios Marine Killed in War
Matagorda County's 10th Victim
The Daily Tribune
Tuesday, June 4, 1968
Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas

A former Palacios resident, Marine Corps PFC Ray Lee Penland, Jr., 19, was killed in action May 26 in South Vietnam, the Marine Corps office in Galveston reported today.

Penland is the son of Mrs. Clarence Koontz of Harvey, La., and Ray Lee Penland of Houston. Funeral services are pending at Taylor Bros. Funeral Home in Bay City.

PFC Penland attended school in Palacios and graduated from high school at Port Lavaca.

According to the Marine Corps, Penland was killed by rifle fire during a fire fight with the enemy near Quang Tri, which is located north of Hue.

He was an infantry Marine, according to reports. Penland's death was the 10th Matagorda County Vietnam war death.

No other information was available today.

Penland Rites Set Saturday
The Daily Tribune
Friday, June 14, 1968
Bay City, Matagorda County, Texas

Funeral services for Marine PFC Ray Lee Penland Jr. of Palacios are set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Trinity Baptist Church in Palacios. Burial will be in the Hawley Cemetery.

Penland, 19, was killed near Quang Tri, South Vietnam, on May 28 during hostile action.

The Rev. J. R. Wgin and the Rev. Willie Bearfield will officiate at the funeral services.

PFC Penland is survived by his mother, Mrs. Clarence Koontz of Harvey, La.; his father, Ray Lee Penland Sr. of Houston; five sisters, Linda Sue Penland, Laura Jean Penland, Barbara Ann Penland and Vicki Lynn Koontz, all of Harvey, La., and one brother, Henry J. Penland of Harvey, La.

Taylor Bros. Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Placed by a member of the Matagorda County Historical Commission,
Carol Sue Gibbs

20 Jul 2005

Ray Penland and I enlisted in the Corps in Victoria, Texas the summer of 1967. We both went to San Antonio for our pre-entry physical. I remember that on the trip to SA we both began talking and became friends. Ray was a big kid. Ray was quiet, shy even, and after a while we were both talking with each other about our high schools. Ray had graduated from Calhoun High in Port Lavaca, Texas. I had graduated from Bloomington High a few miles away. We shared about what Boot Camp was going to be like. We both knew fairly well that we would go to Vietnam. Then when I got to MCRD San Diego, there was Ray! We both were in Platoon 2010, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion.

Several months later I arrived in Viet Nam and one day my Company (Kilo 3/3) was making a co-ordinated field maneuver with Ray's Company (India 3/3) and got in real trouble. While our company was executing this maneuver I saw Ray and pulled him over briefly and we greeted each other for a couple of minutes. Later that same day Ray was killed. I helped retrieve his remains from the field. As I recall Ray had been shot in the leg (thigh) and the bullet hit a femoral artery. In the position Ray was found it seemed that Ray could not reach down and self apply a tourniquet.

Ray... you've never been forgotten by me or your buddies who served with you. Your quiet, modest, kind soul lives in us who remain. You are remembered with honor and devotion. Now that I am an old man (58) I have come to understand through having Jesus as my Savior that some day we will gather again and eternally rejoice in His presence. I am not ashamed to tell you, Ray, you are loved and missed. "If the Army and the Navy ever gaze on Heaven's scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines." I remain.. Semper Fidelis, your Boot Pal, Art J. Ramirez

04 Sep 2006

Ray Lee,

Just wish to share some thoughts and the need to know that you know that even in death you seem to be there for me.

It's been a year or so now that your Uncle Gene (of all people! LoL) informed me where your remains rest (off Hiway 35 N. of Blessing). Several times since, I've stopped by where you repose and sit close by and meditate on you and the person you still are in my life. Except that you're not physically present I sense and am aware of your presence; call that what one may.

As you know, my grandson Jeremy Padron, 17, lives in Point Lavaca and goes to your alma mater, Ha! yes, he's a Sandcrab too!

Remember when you and I took that govemment paid bus ride to San Antone for our pre-entry physicals and I poked fun at you by asking you how in the world could anyone be threatened or scared by some crab? I was to find out that the person that you are, you are not at all offended by that. You just smiled and went on to tell me if I had ever been bit by a crab, I should know better. We laughed! You remember how I was at 19, short and always trying to knock the world down to my level, typical insecure young male.

You are graceful still, Ray Lee. Here about a month ago I went to our old Battalion's (3/3) 38th anniversary Reunion. Tom, Eddy and I talked about the events which culminated in your death. I told them about finally finding your resting place and of how really beautful and gentle is the ambience that surrounds you here on earth.

I told them, had you lived you would have a similar "spread" to raise your own family. As you know know also, Jeremy's been having a hard go in school. Man, you wouldn't even believe it! Sociey has got so darn soft the school won't let boys be, well, just boys! Like things like farting on purpose in class gets you D hall. Snap, away! I'm like, what he the hell is wrong with this picture?

Sorry, Ray Lee, I digress. Anyway, last time I stopped by to pay respects and have fellowship I asked you to help us out if you could. Well, I must say that the boy (Jeremy) has turned the corner on things and is doing so much better. Jeremy's not only attending class but most important, he is participating in his classes!

So, Ray Lee I choose to believe that your hand was in there with these peachy-keen results. You see, all this time I only, if not relentelssly, encouraged Jeremy to "attend classes". The really great part is his actual participation! That just had to be from you Ray Lee. That's the quality of the kind of thoughtfulness only you can give. I'm grateful for and humbled by your sweet soul, Ray Lee. Ray Lee, it's still me and I'm still the same chatterbox I've always been. Thanks for putting up with me. I'll come by soon. I remain Semper Fidelis.

A brother Marine,
from Boot Camp and Combat,
A. J. Ramirez

From a friend and fellow Marine,
Arthur J. Ramirez
138 West Marion Street, Clute, Tx 77531
19 Feb 2006

My dear brother and to all the marines who keep his memory alive. Thank you and my heart is grateful. I'm 49 today and was 12 when we lost our brother. When you lose your sibling it's like the circle is broken and recently we lost our sister Lenora Marie Penland whose name was not mentioned as a sister in the obituary. The loss never goes away. I have always honored his life and memory and always been proud to be a sister of the Marine Corps and I've always been proud to be an American. Recently, I think around 2003 or 2004, someone left their medals in a box on Ray Lee's grave site. I personally would like to say thanks, for someone to leave their medals there you must have cared and for the guy in Bloomington thank you for sharing. It meant so much to read what you wrote about my brother after 35 years. It's awesome.

From his sister,
Laura Penland

Photos provided by a cousin, Susie Penland Genck

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Heavy fighting was the norm throughout Quang Tri Province during the spring of 1968, particularly in the west around Khe Sanh and along the DMZ border to the east. During the period 22 through 28 May the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, lost 42 Marines and sailors in action, with 21 of the losses coming on a single day - 26 May - in an action near the village of Ky Truc, where an NVA force had been cornered. Pfc Penland was one of ten men from India 3/3 killed in the action on that day:
  • H&S Company:
    • HM2 Thomas W. Peterson, Lake Wells, FL (with India 3/3)
    • Cpl Randall W. Kelpine, Milwaukee, WI
    • Cpl William B. O'Halloran, New York, NY
    • LCpl Wilbert W. Cuch, Springville, UT

  • I Company:
    • LCpl Lester Erby, Clarksdale, MS
    • Pfc Rudy Cardenas, San Antonio, TX
    • Pfc Ralph A. Gearheart, Crestline, OH
    • Pfc Larry Jones, Gary, IN
    • Pfc Thomas Murrin, New York, NY
    • Pfc Ray L. Penland, Seadrift, TX
    • Pfc De Wayne M. Selby, Bismarck, ND
    • Pvt Kenneth E. Bradley, Nashville, TN
    • Pvt Richard L. Incrocci, Madera, CA

  • K Company:
  • M Company:
    • SSgt Raymond I. Garcia, Hayward, CA
    • Cpl James P. Crawford, Fullerton, CA
    • Cpl Craig B. Holt, Woonsocket, RI

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 Nov 2001
Last updated 08/10/2009