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A Lesson in Valor…Thank You Ron.

Nov 05, 2016

This Veterans Day we honor and thank all of America’s service men and women.

However, there is one in particular that has been very important to us that we want to thank, as well as share his story as an example of strength, leadership and what can be achieved in life.

Please take a few minutes and read through this journal entry, it may inspire you to dig a little deeper and be a little stronger.

Brief background: Ron Ray has been my business partner and close friend for two decades. He taught me a lot about humility and leadership. I make it a point to listen closely when he speaks.

Ron was born on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941. A date with destiny from the start.

There are numerous moments in Ron’s life where he demonstrated his tremendous strength of character and loyalty to his family, colleagues, friends and his soldiers. However, everything he learned and trained for in his first 25 years came together this one day.

June 19, 1966, Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam. The snapshot of a life changing day: A squad sent out to destroy a hostile machine gun nest became pinned down, Ron stormed the emplacement himself, killing the four gunners with his grenades and shotgun. He then rescued a medic and a wounded man who had come under intense fire by silencing the hostile position with a grenade. As an NVA grenade landed near two of his soldiers, Ron dove in front of the grenade shielding his men with his body, suffering shrapnel wounds to his legs and feet. He then was shot in the legs by enemy machine gun fire. He had one grenade left, which he used to destroy the machine gun nest. Paralyzed he directed his troops to leave him so he could provide them cover. One soldier, Sergeant Berdine, refused to leave him, hoisted him over his shoulders and carried him out.

Read the full Medal of Honor citation here (http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3399/ray-ronald-eric.php).

Take a few minutes to read a few other citations from Medal of Honor recipients. It’s both humbling and a source of great pride for all Americans.

 

Men and women like that are rare, and are the backbone that made our nation great. As a nation, so many have sacrificed deeply. And for each, we are grateful.

But Ron’s story is much deeper.

Born in Cordele, Georgia, Ron was raised by his mom: Elizabeth Ray. Hers is as much a story of courage in its own right. In addition to Ron, she had 4 other sons and 2 daughters. To make ends meet, the family worked as migrants moving across farms in rural Georgia, Florida, Indiana and Michigan: with Elizabeth keeping her sons and daughters in tow, by her side, she kept her family together, and provided.

Ron would often cite that his Mom was his hero.

I can certainly understand why, and how difficult it must have been for her. She never complained, just focused on building the values and character of her children.

Think of the tremendous challenges Mrs. Ray endured. She was relentless in raising them the right way…without all of the materiality that we think we need in society today. And, the tremendous moment of pride from raising her children on the farms in rural Georgia to standing with her son, in the White House, receiving our nation’s highest honor.

 

I sometimes need to remind myself of his incredible journey. Times were tough, but they never thought of it in those terms.

Ron joined the military at 18 and took the hard road.

Following his initial three-year term of service, Ron volunteered for Special Forces training and was assigned to the Special Forces Training Group (Airborne). He did his Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, and other locations. He also attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Bragg, completed Ranger School and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment.

It was in June 1966, where he was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, as a platoon leader in the Ia Drang Valley. He had only been in Vietnam a few weeks.

After 6 months in the hospital, he returned to the 1st Special Forces Training Group as the Alpha Company commander.

He continued this path of service to our country and further distinguished himself with his selection to the prestigious White House Fellows program, President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, served as Assistant Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs and is a damn good man. Continually giving back and setting the bar high on what it means to not only be a man, but a patriot and champion of veterans. There has rarely been a day where his deep concern and passion for veterans, our war fighters and the people that support them hasn’t come through.


Ron and I have worked together since 1989, and here’s what I’ve learned:

Put Others First: It’s about people. Your people. Whether it is your troops, your family, your friends, your employees…their needs are ahead of yours. Always.

Loyalty: The phrase is so often used but how many would truly do it, “I’d take a bullet for him/her.” Well, this man did that and more. Ron lives his life with a keen sense of loyalty and dedication to his people. There is not a moment, no matter what, that I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to Ron…and he would always be there. Some might say “Loyal to a fault.” I’d say, learn a lesson about true loyalty from this man.

Passion and Respect: If Ron jumps in, it’s with passion and a deep sense of “doing it right”. That applies to that fateful day in 1966, to how he has led and supported efforts to make life easier for our veterans, to his passion for customers and employees as CEO Ray Group International, to the countless moments that led Kennedy Consulting naming him Consultant of the Year in 2013.

NBC Medal of Honor Interview: I’d encourage you to take a few minutes, link through to this interview by NBC on Ron. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceqt65np7nM)

It’s a true lesson in character building, leadership and dedication to our country.

In honor of Ron’s tremendous service to our country, all of our service men and women, and our veterans we are donating $10,000 to the TAPS Good Grief Camp, which provides bereavement support for children and families that have lost a loved one in military service. (www.taps.org)

If you are considering a charitable contribution this year, please give Bonnie Carroll and the TAPS organization very serious consideration. Both Ron and I have given to Bonnie and the TAPS organization for years.

 

As a post-script: Ron's awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal (Vietnamese); Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab.

Thank you Ron…for everything you’ve done for our country and the impact you’ve had on me and so many others.

Comments


  • Audrey Mundell on Nov 19, 2016

    WOW! This is an incredible story of an incredible man! Many thsnks sir, for your many years of service, from a fallen soldier’s family. The family of Major Michael Mundell. We are so happy you returned to the states.


  • Emma Mason on Nov 16, 2016

    Thank you for posting all of the . It is a great read about a great human being , a style of human who seems to have become far too few .


  • George LaPenta on Nov 11, 2016

    A truly inspirational man and story. Thanks for sharing.


  • Jimmy Green on Nov 11, 2016

    Thank you Ronald for all you have done for our country. The family is very proud of you. Jimmy (son of Willa Dean Ray Green)


  • RHonda Turley on Nov 10, 2016

    You are the type of American that places character in its description! You make us proud!


  • Charles Laufer on Nov 10, 2016

    All of America is proud of your sacrifices you have made and so I would like to tell you personally how much I respect what you have done for our country!!!!!!!!


  • Christine P. Eustaquio on Nov 10, 2016

    He was brought up by a godly mother who instilled in him good Christian values of service and humility. So much unlike the protesters I see on tv now who are self-absorbed brats who have no gratitude not sense of loyalty to the country that has given them so much.I salute you, Me. Ray! God bless you!


  • SHannon Kitts on Nov 10, 2016

    Ron…I’m in awe of how you’ve chosen to live life! As a parent, your what I hope my children embrace as a “hero” and desperately try to instill in them everyday.You’re Mom is my hero too & set the parenting bar very high for all of us.
    I’m not sure there are adequate words to describe how thankful I am for ALL that you have chosen to be.
    Grateful Hugs,
    The Kitts Family


  • Alan Bruemmer on Nov 10, 2016

    I just want to say thank you for your service to our country and to the human race. May God bless you.


  • Don Server on Nov 10, 2016

    Awesome article and story. Thanks to Ron and all veterans and their service. Thanks for sharing. We need more Ron’s in our society today .


  • Julia Styer on Nov 10, 2016

    Thank you seems hollow but I do truly appreciate your service. May God bless you always.


  • Debora Ingram on Nov 09, 2016

    Just a quick note to thank you for serving America, putting your life on the line to keep America safe. I have a son-in-law and daughter serving in the US Army currently and am do very proud of the fact that they both chose to serve our country. It is with my deepest admiration that I am posting this note.


  • Shelley Snyder on Nov 09, 2016

    Blessed by this mini bio. Thank you to Ron and all the Vets. I’m especially partial to the Vietnam Vets, who did not get a welcome home after serving our country. War is hell! Love and respect.


  • Robert Burroughs jr on Nov 09, 2016

    I was speachless after reading your story, I am not a vet and I’ve always regretted not serving as I still do to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. I can never thank you or the rest of the veterans for the sacrifices that you have made,all I can say is is that I am truly sorry I was never brave enough to stand with the rest of you but just know I have nothing less than the highest respect for you and all the others, I’m humbly in your debt, I love everything you have done for your country and family
    sign in your debt forever thank you


  • Linda Estes on Nov 09, 2016

    Thank you, Sir. You did our nation proud. May God bless you, Ron.


  • Debbie Cabrera on Nov 09, 2016

    You are so blessed to know and have in your life a man like Ron.
    Ron, thank you so much for your service and sacrifice! Also, may God bless your mom who did such a phenomenal job raising you!


  • Josephine Chrestman on Nov 09, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is encouraging.your mother is a hero to all of us that owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you for your service Sir.


  • Donna Sue TObin on Nov 08, 2016

    Ty for all You’ve done!
    God Bless Your Heart!


  • David Ballard on Nov 07, 2016

    Sir, I am deeply touched by your story. I believe the IA drang Valley is where Col.Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) we were soldiers movie. Collapsed. Moore is from my home town. I’m an USA FORCE vet from the 70’s. Thank you for your service, sacrifice and inspiration.


  • ROf on Nov 07, 2016

    Thank you for your service.


  • Jeannie Boone Thompson on Nov 07, 2016

    Thank you so much for your service! You are are a true hero!


  • Margie on Nov 07, 2016

    Love hearing about Real Men


  • Tammy Pearce Stults on Nov 07, 2016

    Thank you Sir for your Service to our Country and your life. God Bless


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