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Staff Sergeant Richard Ray, Jr.
U. S. Army Air Forces
Ser. # 18227092

September 14, 1923 - June 8, 1944

Nashville National Cemetery
Madison, Tennessee

Gold Star Mother
Katie Annie Williams Ray

Palacios High School Memorial

Staff Sergeant Richard Ray, Jr. [September 14, 1923 - June 8, 1944] was born to Richard “Dick” Ray, Sr. [March 6, 1899 - January 15, 1979] and Katie Annie (Williams) Ray [March 17, 1904 - April 17, 1996] at Wills Point, Van Zandt County, Texas.  Richard joined the United States Army Air Forces at Houston, Texas on December  9, 1942.  After completing his flight training at Pyote, Ward County, Texas in January 1944 he visited with his family and friends before leaving for overseas duty.  He was assigned to 388th Bombardment Group (Heavy Bombers),  3rd Bombardment Division, 8th Air Force at Station 136 near Knettishall, England.  The aircraft he was assigned to as an armorer and waist gunner was a B-17 Super Fortress (#42-97132) which the crew had named “Double Trouble.” In May 1944 he was promoted to Assistant Engineer. On June 8, 1944 “Double Trouble”  was on a bombing run  to Tours,  France when she developed engine trouble and was forced to turn back to the base.  A fire developed on the aircraft causing a bomb to explode.  The aircraft crashed in an open field 14 miles West of Thetford, England and there were no survivors.  The nine crew members remains were co-mingled in the explosion, crash and fire.  It was not possible to make individual identifications.  The crews remains were originally buried in a group grave at the Squadron Cemetery near Cambridge, England.  Later, at an undetermined date, the remains were returned to the United States and re-interred in a group grave at the Nashville National Cemetery at Madison, TN. At the time of Richard’s death his family was living in Palacios, Texas.  Besides his mother and father, he was also survived by one sister, Betty Jo (Rusk) and one brother Billy Ray. 


AN EIGHTH AAF BOMBER STATION, England--Promotion of Richard Ray Jr., of Palacios, Tex., from sergeant to staff sergeant has been announced at this Eighth AAF Flying Fortress station.

Sgt. Ray is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ray, Sr., of Palacios and he entered the AAF Dec. 9, 1942, at Houston, Texas. He is armorer-waist gunner on a Fortress.

Newspaper and date unknown

Sgt. Ray Adds Oak Leaf Cluster To Air Medal Award

AN EIGHTH AAF BOMBER STATION, England--Staff Sergeant Richard Ray, Jr., of Palacios, Texas, waist gunner on an Eighth AAF Flying Fortress in the group commanded by Colonel William B. David of Calhoun, Ga., has been awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal, equivalent to another award of the Medal.

The award was for "courage, coolness and skill" displayed while participating in bombing attacks on targets on Nazi Europe.

Sgt. Ray is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard R. Ray, Sr., of Palacios, Texas. He entered the AAF Dec. 9, 1942 at Houston.

Paper and date unknown

Picture of Richard Ray (on right) and friend Curtis Reynolds, of Houston, Texas, who both died in the crash.

388th Bombardment Group (Heavy Bombers)

Enlisted Men - Back Row
Sgt. Linhall W. Batke, Assistant Engineer, TX
Sgt. Richard J. McEvoy, Radio Operator, PA
SSgt. Robert C. Boese, Gunner, WI
Sgt. Roger W. Morgan, Engineer, KY
Sgt. Richard Ray, 2nd Asst. Engineer
     & Asst. Radio Operator, TX
Sgt. Curtis A. Reynolds, Assistant Gunner, TX

Officers - Front Row
Lt. Max T. Stuart, Pilot, ID
Lt. Henry A. Ford, Navigator
(Lt. Ford transferred and was replaced by
Lt. Robert N. Morgan, Navigator, TX)
Lt. Robert E. Little, Bombardier, PA
Lt. Edward W. Calo, Co-Pilot, MA


Son of Mr. and Mrs. Dick Ray Killed June 8, 1944

Mr. and Mrs. Richard "Dick" Ray received word from the War Department at Washington, D. C., Tuesday afternoon, that their son, S/Sgt. Richard Ray, had been killed in action June 8, 1944, and a letter with further details would follow.

Sergeant Ray was with the Eighth A.A.A. Bomber Station in England and in May was promoted to assistant engineer of a B-17 Flying Fortress. He was recently awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster in addition to the Air Medal received for "meritorious achievement: while participating in bombing attacks on targets in Nazi Europe.

Sergeant Ray completed his flight training at Pyote, Texas, in January and visited here with homefolks and friends before leaving for oversea duty.

Palacios Beacon, Thursday, June 22, 1944

Houston Flyer Among Crewmen In Mass Burial

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 18. (AP)--Two Texans are among nine American flyers whose bodies will be lowered into a common grave here Thursday. It will be Nashville's first mass burial of World War II dead.

The nine, who died in the crash of their bomber in England in 1944, included S/Sgt. Richard Ray Jr. of Palacios, Texas, and S/Sgt. Curtis A. Reynolds of Houston.

None of the nine was a Tennessee resident. But families chose Nashville from a list of "logical" burial places submitted by the adjutant general's grave registration division.

Newspaper and date unknown

9 Air Heroes Who Died Together Buried Together
By Allen Pettus

Taps sounded in National cemetery yesterday for nine valiant airmen who perished when their B-17 bomber, "Double Trouble," exploded in midair over England on D-Day plus two.

As they had fought and died together, their bodies were buried together in a single bronze casket shrouded by the American flag.

A steady, cold mist filtered down from leaden skies as representatives of the army, air force and veterans' organizations gathered with next of kin to pay last tribute to the supreme sacrifice of the airmen.

A three-volley salute was fired by an eight-man rifle squad of airmen from Smyrna air base.

It is believed the ceremony honored the largest number of American war dead yet to be consigned to a common grave under the military department's program of returning bodies of casualties to their native soil for burial.

The nine servicemen, four officers and five enlisted men, came from homes in seven states. None was a native of Tennessee. By agreement of their families, National cemetery was chosen as the burial site.

At least 40 friends and relatives of the airmen, including a wife and several parents, came to Nashville for the services. Five of the dead were represented, but next of kin of the remaining four were unable to attend.

According to members of the families, the crew's Flying Fortress crashed and burned June 8, 1944, near Cambridge, England. Some of the crew were said to have been making their 52nd and final mission.

Nashvillian Recalls Crash

A Nashville ex-serviceman, Jack Wright of 4430 Brush Hill road, recalled yesterday he was operating a crash truck in England at the time of the crash, and was among the first to reach the scene. Wright was one of eight members of American Legion post 5 who served as pallbearers at the ceremony yesterday.

Wright said his crash truck picked up on its two-way radio a distress call from the "Double Trouble" about an hour before the crash. He said the radio operator reported engine trouble en route to the target, and was forced to turn back to England with a full bomb load.

Investigation indicated a fire aboard the plane caused a bomb to explode, sending the craft crashing to the earth, Wright said. The victims were buried in their squadron's cemetery near Cambridge.

Several of the airmen were making their second tour of 25 bombing missions at the time of their death, having volunteered for this extra assignment after the first 25 flights were completed. Had they wished, they could have returned to the United States for administrative or training assignments instead of going into extra combat.

Military escort accompanying the bodies to Nashville was Lt. Raoul DeMarc of the Atlanta general depot. The casket was taken from Bracey-Welsh funeral home to National cemetery in a cortege headed by police escort.

Legionnaire Officiates

Walter E. Gasser of the Nashville American Legion post officiated at the services. Recounting the bravery and sacrifice of American soldiers from Valley Forge through World War II, Gasser said this nation must be kept morally clean and physically strong "that these men may not have died in vain."

Also participating were the Rev. Pickens Johnson, Post 5 chaplain, Capt. Martin B. Malloy, Catholic chaplain at Smyrna air base, and Lt. Col. Frank A. Spear, chaplain of the Tennessee military district.

American flags folded neatly in triangle shape and stacked on the casket were presented to next of kin by the escort officer, who described them as "tokens of a grateful nation."

A bright array of floral designs were placed on the grave. These were sent by Nashville Gold Star Mothers, veterans' groups, and friends of the families. Those in attendance overflowed the large tent provided for shelter against the rain.

A temporary wooden marker with stenciled names was placed at the head of the grave. This will be replaced later by a white marble stone engraved with the names of the airmen, according to Henry R. Cole, cemetery superintendent.

Mayor's Aide Attends

Col. W. I. Sherwood, commanding officer of the Tennessee military district, and Bryant Jones, administrative aide to Mayor Thomas L. Cummings, were among those in attendance.

Next of kin present were:

Mrs. William J. Bryant of Carmi, Ill., wife of Lieutenant Bryant.

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Morgan of Kansas City, Mo., parents of Lieut. Robert N. Morgan.

Joseph Calo of North Arlington, N. J., father of Lieut. Edward W. Calo.

Mrs. John Little of West Somerville, Mass., mother of Lieut. Robert E. Little.

Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Reynolds of Houston, Texas, parents of S/Sgt. Curtis A. Reynolds.

Unable to attend were next of kin of T/Sgt. John R. Conde, son of Mrs. Ruth Conde, Englewood, Colo., S/Sgt. Robert W. Morgan, son of Herbert A. Morgan, Campbellsburg, Ky., S/Sgt. Charles E. Walkovich, son of Mrs. Dora Walkovich, Brockton, Mass., and S/Sgt. Richard Ray Jr., son of Richard Ray Sr., Palacios, Texas.

Newspaper and date unknown



Lt. Col. Karl L. Springer, representing Major General Charles Lawrence, commanding officer of Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, was here Wednesday and presented the distinguished flying cross, posthumously, to Staff Sergeant Richard Ray Jr.

The presentation was made in a private ceremony at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ray Sr.
Mr. Ray received the medal, citation and certificate on behalf of himself and Mrs. Ray.



Staff Sergeant Richard Ray Jr., 18227092, Air Corps, Army of the United States, distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement while participating in serial flight from 2 March 1944 to 8 June 1944. As Right Waist Gunner on a B-24 type aircraft, Sergeant Ray participated in many combat missions against heavily defended enemy installations in the European Theater of Operations. The technical skill, exceptional courage, and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Ray reflect credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

Newspaper and date unknown



SSGT Ray clipped these poems from the Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes, and sent them home to family and friends.




There's pride in her every movement

And the strength to forge ahead,

'Til the job is done

And the battle won,

Though half of her crew be dead.


There's more to her than engines,

More than a pair of wings,

Than rivets and wires

And rubber tires,

And all these man-made things.


She has the heart of a warrior

We know for we've seen her die

And the gallant fight

Was an awesome sight

Far in the dome of the sky.


She has a soul immortal

She fills her mission well

With head held high

We've seen her fly

Straight to the jaws of hell.


She has a will of iron

She seeks no chance to hide

Thought her flight be straight

To the fiery gate

No fury can turn her aside.


Great is her fame and might

And great is her gallant crew,

Wherever their base,

They've won a place

By the side of the famous few.


You think of her only as metal,

Welded and riveted strong

She's a living thing,

A queen on wing

Who carries a warrior throng.


Strangers may one day replace her

Higher and swifter to fly

But we'll always recall

She's the top of them all

The queen of the azure sky.

--By Clement L. Lockwood



Aerial Gunner

They call him the aerial gunner,

His hopes they say are dim,

And his life is said

To hang by a thread

That is long and weak and slim.


He loves his home and he loves his land,

For he gambles his neck and limb,

And wagers his life

In a cloud-land strife

In a game with the reaper grim.


His mount is a roaring dragon

That flashes across the sky

To take the dare

In the enemy's air,

And to strike him down or die.


He is a knight of the upper air,

And death his eternal foe

Rides the tail

With an eerie wail

Where his steed may go.


You have to give him the credit

For the job he does so well,

For he brings her home

Though his steed may roam

To the very jaws of hell.


He wears no bars and he wears no stars,

For Sergeant is his rank,

But I've heard them tell

He fights like hell,

And is proud of the title "Yank."


There are others there in the upper air,

And we can't detract their fame,

For they make a crew,

And the job they do

Regardless of who is the same.


But this is a song to the Gunner,

The hero who goes unsung,

Though the enemy knows

His deadly blows,

And the funeral knells he's rung.

--Clement L. Lockwood




Katie Annie Ray, 92, of Palacios passed away April 17, 1996 in Palacios.

She was born March 17, 1904 in Ashby, Texas to Thomas J. and Mabel Elizabeth Douglas Williams. She was a lifelong resident of the Palacios area and a member of the Trinity Baptist Church.

She is survived by one daughter, Betty Jo Rusk of Palacios, by one son, Billy L, Ray of Sweeny, by one brother, Irving Williams of Lake Jackson, by five grandchildren, Couguezc Schraeder of Hardy, Virginia, Rachel Burns of Green River, Wyoming, Geren Rusk of Ridgeway, Colorado, Benny Ray Rusk of Alvin, Texas, and Terry Ray of Columbus, Mississippi, and by six great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Dick Ray in 1979 and by one son, Richard Ray during WWII in 1944.

Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, 1996 at the Palacios Funeral Chapel with Jeff English officiating. Burial will follow at the Ashby Cemetery in Ashby, Texas. Pallbearers include, Geren Rusk, Benny Ray Rusk, John Rossler, Howard Holloway, Harold Hunt, Vernon Hunt and Terry Ray.

Arrangements are with Taylor Bros. Funeral Home in Palacios.

The Daily Tribune, April 18/19, 1996


Ashby Cemetery


50th Wedding Anniversary


Dick Ray, 79, of Palacios died January 15 at the Wagner General Hospital in Palacios. He had been a resident of Palacios for 43 years and was the owner and operator of the Shoe & Leather Shop for the past 40 years. Survivors include: wife, Mrs. Katie Ray of Palacios; one daughter, Mrs. Betty Rusk of Palacios; one son, Billy Ray of Lake Jackson; one sister, Mrs. Winnie Countryman of Kaufman; five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday at the Palacios Funeral Home with Rev. J. R. Gwin officiating. Interment will be at the Ashby Cemetery. Taylor Bros. Palacios Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

The Daily Tribune, January 15, 1979

Pictures and Nashville article courtesy of Betty Rusk.


Copyright 2006 - Present by the Ray Family.
All rights reserved

Jan. 30, 2006
Feb. 12, 2008