Ray was born on 14 February 1945 to David F. and Donnie M. Ray of McMinnville, Tennessee. He graduated from City High School in McMinnville in 1963. He was a University of Tennessee Alumni Scholarship winner and attended classes at the Knoxville campus from 1963 to 1966. He voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Nashville, Tennessee on 28 March 1966 and reported to Recruit Training Command, Naval Training Center, San Diego, California.
David Ray’s first assignment was to the Naval Hospital aboard USS Haven (AH-12). Following his tour on the hospital ship, he served at the naval hospital in Long Beach, California.
In May 1968, David Ray requested a tour of duty with the Marines. In July,, after training at Camp Pendleton, he joined Battery D, Second Battalion, Eleventh Marines, U.S. 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force in the Republic of Vietnam.
While defending their fire base at Liberty Bridge, Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa against the intense hostile fire of a determined assault, Petty Officer Ray moved from parapet to parapet rendering emergency medical treatment to the wounded. He battled two enemy soldiers who attacked his position, killing one and wounding another. Although wounded himself, he refused medical treatment and advanced through the hail of enemy fire to continue his lifesaving efforts.
|Medal of Honor|
Petty Officer Ray’s final act of heroism was to protect a Marine he was treating. Out of ammunition and severely wounded, he threw himself upon the injured Marine when a grenade landed nearby, thus saving his life when it exploded. In addition to Petty Officer Ray, ten Marines died in the battle.
Mortally wounded, David R. Ray was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action, as well as the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (with star) and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. His father was presented the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony.
His rank at the time of his death was Petty Officer 2nd Class. He was not married. His name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall at panel 29W, row 082.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Corpsman with Battery D, 2nd Battalion at Phu Loc 6, near An Hoa on 19 March 1969. 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, Petty Officer Ray moved 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, Petty Officer Ray was forced to battle
two enemy soldiers who attacked his position, personally killing one 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, Petty Officer Ray was faced with the intense fire of oncoming enemy troops and, despite the gravepersonal 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.
Petty Officer Ray’s final act of heroism was to protect thepatient he was treating. He threw himself upon the wounded Marine, thus saving the man’s life when an enemy grenade exploded nearby. Through his determined and preserving actions, courageous spirit, and loyalty to the welfare of his Marine comrades, he served to inspire the men of Battery D to heroic efforts in defeating the enemy. Petty Officer Ray’s exemplary conduct, steadfast determination, and unwavering devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.