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Saluting a hero
Mary Don Bixby, left, the sister of Bobby Ray, and Bob Tyndall, who served aboard the USS Bobby Ray, place a wreath by Bobby Ray's grave at Mt. View Cemetery on Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of his death.
Bobby Ray Detachment.jpg
Members of Bobby Ray Detachment No. 1377 of the Marine Corps League performed a rifle salute Tuesday to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the death of their namesake, David Robert “Bobby” Ray.

Gunfire rang through the air Tuesday, followed by the somber notes of "Taps" as local veterans honored the 50th anniversary of the death of local war hero David Robert "Bobby" Ray.

Ray is a Medal of Honor recipient, the highest and most prestigious military decoration given in the United States.

Ray was 24 when he was killed in the Vietnam War when his battery came under heavy attack. According to his official decoration, Ray administered emergency medical treatment to many wounded soldiers. 

His Medal of Honor recognition notes, "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."

Tuesday's ceremony was conducted by Bobby Ray Detachment No. 1377 of the Marine Corps League. It was attended by Ray's sister, Mary Don Bixby. She expressed gratitude to the Marines for their unwavering support of her brother.

"Their dedication to Bobby's memory has been extraordinary," said Bixby. "They have done many things for him in his honor."

While Ray's military heroics are entrenched in history, Bixby described her brother as a mischievous boy growing up in McMinnville. He played trombone in the band, and was a dedicated student who also enjoyed a few pranks.

As for his military heroics, the Medal of Honor well describes Ray's actions.

"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."

The Medal of Honor continues, "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."