MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. — David R. “Bobby” Ray is a name most Warren countians recognize. He was only 24 years old when he died in Vietnam a hero.
That hero, buried in Mt. View Cemetery with a simple tombstone overlooking the bypass, now has a United States flag flying over his grave. The flag is lit at night so anyone who sees it will remember the man who gave his life for his country.
The Bobby Ray detachment of the Marine Corps League generated the funds to have the flag placed at the grave.
Master Sgt. Phil Mitchell and Sgt. Tom Cantrell escorted Ray’s sister, Mary Don Bixby, in a solemn ceremony held Saturday in which a flag was erected on a pole placed beside Ray’s grave.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” said Bixby, “especially since it is lighted and can be seen from the bypass.”
William Studer, junior vice comandant of the Bobby Ray detachment, said, “Bobby Ray was a big hero from this town. I have wanted this for a long time. He deserves this.”
A prayer was said before the ceremony which was attended by McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley and Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary principal Beverly Ramsey. Taps was played once the flag was raised. A gentle breeze stretched the flag as it flew proudly over the grave.
Ray was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. In addition to the Medal of Honor 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 name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall at panel 29W, row 082.
Other honors bestowed in Ray’s name include:
• USS David R. Ray (DD-971). Decommissioned in February of 2002 at Naval Station Everett, Wash.
• David R. Ray Branch Medical Clinic, providing dental and medical care for beneficiaries in the Naval Station Everett area.
• David R. Ray (Battery D 2nd Battalion 11th Marines 1969) Naval Branch Medical/ Dental Clinic, Camp Pendleton, Ca.
• Ray Hall, Naval Medical and Dental Clinic, The Basic School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
• Ray Hall, military housing hall, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
• Highway 70S Bypass in McMinnville.
• Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary School in McMinnville.
• Ray Clinic/ Ray immunizations, USA MEDDAC, Ft. Huachuca, Ariz.
The Bobby Ray detachment brings together active and retired Marines and Corpsmen of all ages together who share a common interest.
The Bobby Ray Detachment will hold the 33rd state convention of the Marine Corps League of Tennessee on June 26-29 at the VFW in McMinnville. For more information about the Bobby Ray detachment of the Marine Corps League, visit www.mcltn.org.