David Robert Ray

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class
United States Navy
14 February 1945 - 19 March 1969
Mc Minnville, Tennessee
Panel 29W Line 082

Medal of Honor

Fleet Marine Force Corpsman

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for David Robert Ray

26 Mar 2005

On March 19th 1969, when an enemy battalion got in the wire of D Battery, 11th Marines near An Hoa, "Doc" David R Ray of McMinnville, Tennessee, went to the aid of the wounded. He was hit by enemy fire and killed one enemy soldier and wounded a second who attacked him. Doc continued to treat the wounded until he was fatally wounded. As his last act, he threw himself over a wounded Marine when an enemy grenade exploded nearby.

Where do we get such men?

From a USMC veteran,
Bill Citelli

29 Mar 2005


Stand down Doc, I've got your watch

From a shipmate,
PO3 Palmer

10 Sep 2005


I just want to say that we from McMinnville still think of you. Your grave overlooks my old home and I stop by and see you from time to time even though I live far away. The main thing that I want the world to know is that your mama was so kind to me while I served in Vietnam. She was the only one from our church who really went out of her way to take the time sending things and to write me. She was also the only one from "our" church who really went overboard bragging about me being "her other Vietnam boy". She was so proud of you and that pride passed on to me.

I left the church to never return again after arriving home and being treated like the "baby killer" everyone thought we were. Bobby, your mama gave me things of yours that I will cherish forever or until I find an appropriate place which will display and honor them as they should be. More than that she gave me the love and friendship and welcome home that no one outside my family chose to give. Westwood Church of Christ owes its Vietnam vets a big apology and hopefully they and the rest of the country learned their lesson and will treat their future soldiers with the respect they deserve. God Bless America. God Bless you, Bobby. I am so sorry you didn't get the chance to live your life but I know by your actions others did get to live theirs. Maybe someday those guys will find this site and pay tribute to you as well.

We went to school together, we went to Church together. You were two grades higher than I but I will never forget you and what you did.

I know you're in heaven with your mama now. Give her a big hug and kiss from "her other Vietnam boy".

From a friend and class mate,
Larry M. Pistole, SP/4
Squad Leader, Recon, 1/46th, 196th Light Infantry Brigade
23rd Infantry Divison, Republic of Vietnam

Bobby's mother gave me these photos years ago. I thought some of the Marines he cared for might get a kick out of seeing his hooch again with his Tennessee and American flags flying proudly.

Bobby Ray in his hooch in Vietnam

Bobby's hooch/aid station, flags flying

23 Sep 2006

Bobby and I served together on the USS HAVEN (AH-12), a Navy Hospital ship, we were the last crew aboard. Then we both were given a new duty assignment as Navy Corpsmen at the Naval Hospital Long Beach (off the 605 freeway). Later we were split up before both going in-country with the Marines in Vietnam.

I wish his parents to know that he was a fine young man who deserved The Medal Of Honor for his heroic actions. As military comrades, we have gone where our country needed us and unfortunately some of us don't return to continue our lives. I think of Bobby often and remember him at our VFW meetings.

Our ships and Navy hospitals may be gone or decommissioned, however there are always comrades like myself who never forget the sacrifices made by the few for so many.

God bless you all,
James "Doc" Rockett
III Marine Amphibious Force
Station Hospital at Marble Mountain
Vietnam 8/67 - 8/68

Notes from The Virtual Wall


David Robert (Bobby) Ray, 24, Navy corpsman second class, has become Warren county's sixth victim of the Vietnam campaign.

Mr. and Mrs. David Ray, 204 Ridgecrest Drive, McMinnville were notified late Sunday of their son's death. HM2 Ray was reportedly killed when the Marine unit to which he was attached was over run on March 18. The body is to be returned to High's Inc., here, and is expected to arrive by this weekend. Arrangements will be announced by the funeral home.

Young Ray was serving at An Hoa, Vietnam, as a medic. While the information given the family was limited, a letter written by Tommy Vickers, a close friend of Ray's now serving as an operating room technician at Da Nang, states that Ray was killed while treating the wounded, but had continued to treat the more seriously injured until he was hit the second time. The second wound took his life. The letter was received by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Vickers, Corpsman Vickers' parents, the day before the Rays were notified of their son's death by armed forces officials. It read, in part, as follows:

"I guess you know by now, Bob Ray got killed last night. They ran over An Hoa. This is the story I got from a Marine he patched up.

"'They started when one got through the wire and pulled a satchel charge under a hutch. When it went off everyone ran outside. They started mowing them down as they ran out.'

"Bob got hit, but was still treating wounded when he was hit the second time. I hope this isn't true, but this Marine said he and Bob were real close. We worked until 2:30 this morning, and then I got off. I was on second call. At 6:30 this morning six choppers came in from An Hoa, and I got called back. The first thing I did was go to triage and look for Bob. When I didn't see him, I started asking because most of them were from 15, Bob's outfit. Everyone said he had been hit, but no one knew how bad. Then this one kid told me what happened. I couldn't work. All I could do was sit and stare. He didn't come here that I can find out.

"After his mother has calmed down, tell her this little Marine said Bob knew his job and he was doing it. He fixed my arm. Then he started to cry. He said, 'Gooks were all over them, plus rockets and mortars as thick as flies.' We had mass casualties last night. We caught a few rounds about 4:30. I don't think anyone got hurt. The choppers are coming in. Thank God, I'm off."

A graduate of McMinnville high school, young Ray attended the University of Tennessee before volunteering for service in March of 1966. He was scheduled to come home in July on leave, but had already volunteered for six months additional duty in Vietnam. He planned to return to the battle zone immediately following his leave and a visit with his parents, friends and relatives here. Vickers arrived in Vietnam about a month ago, and he and Ray had planned to have a reunion in Vietnam as soon as their respective duties would permit. Vickers, like Ray, volunteered for service. Ray received his hospital training in San Diego and underwent field training at Camp Pendleton, Calif. In addition to his parents, Ray is survived by a sister, Mrs. Barry Lentz of Orlando, Fla.

Southern Standard, McMinnville, TN
25 Mar 1969, page 1

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Hospital Corpsman Second Class
United States Navy

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HM2 with Battery D, 2d Battalion, at Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa. During the early morning hours, an estimated battalion_sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the battery's position, and succeeded in effecting a penetration of the barbed_wire perimeter. The initial burst of enemy fire caused numerous casualties among the Marines who had immediately manned their howitzers during the rocket and mortar attack. Undaunted by the intense hostile fire, HM2 Ray moved from parapet to parapet, rendering emergency medical treatment to the wounded. Although seriously wounded himself while administering first aid to a Marine casualty, he refused medical aid and continued his lifesaving efforts. While he was bandaging and attempting to comfort another wounded Marine, HM2 Ray was forced to battle 2 enemy soldiers who attacked his position, personally killing 1 and wounding the other. Rapidly losing his strength as a result of his severe wounds, he nonetheless managed to move through the hail of enemy fire to other casualties. Once again, he was faced with the intense fire of oncoming enemy troops and, despite the grave personal danger and insurmountable odds, succeeded in treating the wounded and holding off the enemy until he ran out of ammunition, at which time he sustained fatal wounds. HM2 Ray's final act of heroism was to protect the patient he was treating. He threw himself upon the wounded Marine, thus saving the man's life when an enemy grenade exploded nearby. By his determined and persevering actions, courageous spirit, and selfless devotion to the welfare of his Marine comrades, HM2 Ray served to inspire the men of Battery D to heroic efforts in defeating the enemy. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

On the night of 18/19 March 1969, Delta Battery 2/11 Marines was located at Fire Support Base Phu Lac 6, adjacent to the Liberty Bridge near An Hoa. A few hundred meters distant was the command post of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. In the early morning hours of 19 March both areas were attacked, first by a barrage of mortar and rocket fire, then by a ground attack estimated to be in battalion size. Thirteen Marines and two Navy Corpsmen died in the two attacks - 12 from Delta 2/11 and 3 from the 1/5 CP - but the NVA left 79 bodies strewn around the artillery compound alone.

HM2 David R. Ray was formally assigned to the Headquarters Battery, but was Delta 2/11's senior Corpsman. The fifteen men were

  • D Btry, 2nd Bn, 11th Marines
    • HM2 David R. Ray, Mc Minnville, TN (Medal of Honor)
    • Cpl Richard Gilliam, Philadelphia, PA
    • Cpl Charles E. Wheeler, Bucklin, MO
    • LCpl Charles E. Grooms, Trotwood, OH
    • Pfc John F. Allen, Bowling Green, KY
    • Pfc Donald R. Bartley, Lizton, IN
    • Pfc Dennis F. Ellis, Porterville, CA
    • Pfc John M. Goodwin, Mc Arthur, OH
    • Pfc Robert R. Highfill, Hacienda Heights, CA
    • Pfc George N. Myers, Lancaster, PA
    • Pfc Loring W. Watson, Brewer, ME
    • Pfc Paul Wilson, Bakersfield, CA

  • 1st Bn, 5th Marines
    • GySgt Floyd M. Keefe, Montgomery, AL, H&S Company (Silver Star)
    • HN Lee T. Hamman, San Gabriel, CA, H&S Company
    • Pfc David B. Arnott, Liverpool, NY, D Company

Fleet Marine Force Corpsman

"You guys are the Marine's doctors -
There's none better in the business than a Navy Corpsman ..."
-- Lieutenant General "Chesty" Puller --

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

The USS DAVID R. RAY (DD-971) was the ninth SPRUANCE-class destroyer and the fifth ship of that class to join the Pacific Fleet. Commissioned on 19 November 1977, she served until being decommissioned on 28 Feb 2002. USS DAVID R. RAY is now berthed at the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington.

As an aside, USS HAVEN (AH-12) was commissioned late in World War II. She was moth-balled in the late 40s, reactivated for and served throughout the Korean War, and then was decommissioned again - but continued to serve for ten more years as a floating hospital at Long Beach, California. Her sisters USS REPOSE and USS SANCTUARY served in Vietnam.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a USMC Veteran,
Bill Citelli
Smyrna, Tn

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 26 Mar 2005
Last updated 10/09/2006