Rufus Ray

Private First Class
Army of the United States
08 August 1942 - 09 June 1967
Odessa, Texas
Panel 21E Line 080

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Rufus Ray

21 Jan 2004

Rufus had lived in Odessa, Texas, only a short time when he was drafted. He had moved to Odessa with his wife in the 60's. Very little is known about him 37 years later. He is buried in the Ector County Cemetery. According to community leaders, his wife left the area after Rufus died and may have relocated to Amarillo or to Gainesville, Texas.

Rufus's sacrifice is not without note. His name is listed along with those of Ector County, (Odessa) Texas on our county memorial at the courthouse and his name is also on the West Texas Vietnam Memorial at Midland International Airport and the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial.

08 Jan 2005

Through dogged determination and dumb luck I ran down Rufus Ray's sister living here in Odessa. I found an old obituary on their mother.

I had contacted a former county commissioner for Ector County, Texas, who is a black gentleman, last year. His name is Wilma Ray and I thought Rufus may have been a relative. Mr. Ray indicated he was not, but did remember him, but he had thought the family moved from the area years ago. That was the basis of my memorial.

Rufus' wife did leave the area and raised their children in Fort Worth, but Rufus' mother and sister lived in Odessa all of these years. His mother passed away two years ago. Also I found that Rufus was not buried in Odessa, but in Jacksboro, Texas. Apparently after Rufus died a military headstone was set at the Ector County Cemetery for some unknown reason, apparently over an empty plot. It was some 15 years before anyone discovered the error and the headstone was then removed and relocated to be placed on his grave in Jacksboro, Texas.

I had seen the military marker in the old cemetery over 25 years ago, but when I recently tried to locate it to take a picture I couldn't find it. When I questioned his sister about this, she informed me of the problem, so I felt like I was not completely crazy, but just a bit of a twit. A local funeral home had conducted the services but had closed their Odessa operation and moved to Lubbock, Texas, shortly after Rufus' death. Apparently when the headstone was delivered to the Ector County Cemetery somebody just went out and placed it on a plot in the cemetery. No one knows who did it or why.

From a hometown representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762

A Note from The Virtual Wall

C Company, 1/12th Cavalrey, lost three men on 09 Jun 1967:
  • SP4 Samuel R. Durham, Lomita, CA
  • PFC James L. Johnson, Gilmer, TX
  • PFC Rufus Ray, Odessa, TX

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a hometown representative,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762 
21 Jan 2004

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 01/10/2005