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Bernard J. Ray enlisted as a private on 11 June 1942. He was selected for the OCS program at Fort Benning, Georgia 2 June 1943. He was promoted to 1st Lt. on 16 July 1944. The 4th Infantry Division was in England by January 1944.
He was a United States Army officer and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest.
Biography. Ray joined the Army from Baldwin, New York, he attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and by November 17, 1944 was serving as a First Lieutenant in Company F, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. On that day, in the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhütte, Germany, Ray exposed himself to intense enemy fire in an attempt to destroy a wire obstacle that was blocking his unit's path. Seriously wounded while setting up an explosive charge to blow up the obstacle, he realized that he would not be able to accomplish his mission if he did not detonate the charge immediately. Ray set off the explosives, killing himself but successfully destroying the wire barricade. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on December 8, 1945.
Ray, aged 23 at his death, was buried in Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York.
Medal of Honor citation. First Lieutenant Ray's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
He was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on November 17, 1944, during the drive through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. The American forces attacked in wet, bitterly cold weather over rough, wooded terrain, meeting brutal resistance from positions spaced throughout the forest behind minefields and wire obstacles. Small arms, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire caused heavy casualties in the ranks when Company F was halted by a concertina-type wire barrier. Under heavy fire, 1st Lt. Ray reorganized his men and prepared to blow a path through the entanglement, a task which appeared impossible of accomplishment and from which others tried to dissuade him. With implacable determination to clear the way, he placed explosive caps in his pockets, obtained several bangalore torpedoes, and then wrapped a length of highly explosive primer cord about his body. He dashed forward under direct fire, reached the barbed wire and prepared his demolition charge as mortar shells, which were being aimed at him alone, came steadily nearer his completely exposed position. He had placed a torpedo under the wire and was connecting it to a charge he carried when he was severely wounded by a bursting mortar shell. Apparently realizing that he would fail in his self-imposed mission unless he completed it in a few moments he made a supremely gallant decision. With the primer cord still wound about his body and the explosive caps in his pocket, he completed a hasty wiring system and unhesitatingly thrust down on the handle of the charger, destroying himself with the wire barricade in the resulting blast. By the deliberate sacrifice of his life, 1st Lt. Ray enabled his company to continue its attack, resumption of which was of positive significance in gaining the approaches to the Cologne Plain.
At the Friedberg/Giessen Depot in Germary the barracks were named after 1LT Ray. Amongst the notable persons who stayed there was Elvis Presley.
Ray Barracks is located in the southern part of the city near the industrial area and has numerous facilities. It has its own firing range for personal weapons qualification, a small training area with a MOUT site, a Tactical Vehicle washrack and one for POV's, a regulation size track for sports, 2 baseball/softball diamonds, a rappelling tower, an excellent gym (complete with two racquetball courts, Nautilus equipment and a large selection of free weights), a post office, snack bar (with a Burger King Express, Robin Hood and Anthony's Pizza), bookstore, PX with Military Clothing Annex, Library, Arts & Crafts Center, an Auto Crafts Shop, MWR Movie Rental, a Bowling Alley, a small club, a locally operated Italian restaurant, and a small museum.
Since 1945 various American units have been stationed at Ray Barracks, most recently 3rd Armored Division and 1st Armored Division components. Ray Barracks, home for many units, among them 1st Brigade Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, is located in Friedberg approximately 50 miles north of Hanau. Friedberg's history as a garrison city dates back to 1645 when a company was formed there to guard the castle. The history of Ray Barracks as it is known today started around 1912 when the town requested a garrison be once again stationed in Friedberg.
Early in 1913 the construction of the casern started and by October of the same year four companies were stationed there. In the fall of 1914 the entire casern was completed. These buildings still exist today and house various 1st Brigade units and 284th BSB support agencies. During WWI the casern was used to confine Russian, French and English officers. After the war the police took possession of the casern until 1933 when Austrian sympathizers of the Nazi regime lived there. Once again, at the request of city officials, soldiers were stationed at Ray Barracks in 1938, the Wehrmacht's 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry. Additional buildings were constructed on the casern to make room for more soldiers. Most of these soldiers were eventually deployed to Russia and the Western Front.
The first American units occupied the kaserne in 1945. Various commands used the barracks until Combat Command C moved in on 13 February 1953. The barracks were named in honor of First Lieutenant Bernard J. Ray, Company 1, 8th Infantry Regiment, who was awarded the Medal of Honor after his death. Among the famous personalities who have served at Ray Barracks is the late Elvis Presley. Friedberg is a town with a history that goes back to the year 11 B.C. Friedberg's history as a garrison town dates back to 1645 when a company was formed there to guard the castle. Ray Barracks was originally built in 1900, known as Wattrum Kaserne, and used during WWI and WWII. During WWI, captured Russian, French, and English officers were confined to the kaserne. During WWII, the kaserne was occupied by two German infantry battalions.
Friedberg Germany hosted Robert Kennedy, United States Attorney Germinal, on June 25, 1964. Mr. Kennedy attended a tactical demonstration by the Military at Friedbery Germany.
The Lehigh Victory was completed in April 1945 and was 7,612 gross tons, it had a length
of 455.3ft overall, a beam of 62ft, a depth of 38ft., and a top speed of 15 knots.
The ship was completed as the Lehigh Victory in 1945, was ordered by the U.S. War Shipping Administration, and was built by the Los Angeles firm of Lykes Brothers Co. It was a toop transport ship. The ship was transferred in 1947 to the U.S. Army Transporatin Corps and the name was changed to the Lt. Bernard J. Ray. IN 1949 the ship was transferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce and was laid up in the James River. The ship was finally scrapped in 1974 in Brownsville, Texas.
In 1943 a new type of fast emergency fleet cargo ship was designed to replace Liberty Ships and they were given the name "Victory". The first of these ships was completed in February 1944 and a total of 531 of these ships were constructed comprising 414 cargo ships and 117 attack transports. 97 Victories were fitted out as troop carriers. After the war, 170 were sold, 20 loaned to the U.S. Army and the remainder were mothballed as part of the U.S. Reserve Fleet. Some were re-activated for the Korean War and Vietnam War and some retained as support ships for the Military Sealift Command. In 1959 others were refitted as instrumentation, telemetry and recovery ships for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for use with America's space program.
Most of these ships have now been scrapped, but a few remain as part of the reserve fleet or as museum ships.
From ABC News New York on May 27, 2008
It wasn't as if Bernard J. Ray's family had nothing to remember him by. The Army lieutenant had posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, for his heroism during the World War II battle of the Hurtgen Forest in Germany.
In addition, a Merchant Marine cargo ship and a U.S. Army barracks in Germany had been named for him.
So relatives were stunned to learn recently that after 63 years there was something more - and more personal - from the Baldwin soldier: His dog tag, unearthed last February by a German souvenir hobbyist with a metal detector in the forest where Ray, 23, had been killed on Nov. 17, 1944.
The collector, Stefan Sagorski, set out to locate the dog tag's owner through the Internet, according to an account in Newsday's Sunday editions. His inquiry drew the attention of history aficionado John Chiarella, 55, of Dix Hills.
Chiarella spent months trying to track down Ray's relatives. One Web site posting led to another, without results. But on a recent afternoon, the unexpected happened again:
Chiarella, Charlie Jamison, an American Legion volunteer in Baldwin, and a reporter were standing at Ray's grave in the National Cemetery at Pinelawn, when they were spotted by Louis DiLeo, 50. As chief bugler for the New York Military Forces Honor Guard, DiLeo had just played "Taps" for two military funerals.
DiLeo, of Seaford, was curious about the strangers because his wife, Maria, is distantly related to the Ray family. Upon learning why they were there, DiLeo called her on his cell phone.
"Maria, I'm holding Bernie Ray's dog tag. ... It's in my hand right now."
The word spread to Ray's relatives, including a 91-year-old sister in Florida, and his niece and goddaughter, Beryl Higgins, of Mendham, N.J., who keeps Ray's Medal of Honor framed on a wall.
"We just can't believe this," Higgins told the newspaper. "It's like a piece of Bernard is coming home."
According to the 1945 Medal of Honor citation, Ray - already wounded - essentially sacrificed his life to blow a hole in a German wire barricade, enabling his troops to carry out a successful attack.
The dog tag may have been left when Ray's body was initially buried on the battlefield. His remains were later moved to a cemetery in Germany and, still later, repatriated to Pinelawn.
The still-shiny ID tag was to be presented to Ray's relatives Monday at the American Legion's Memorial Day observance at Silver Lake.
Some dog tags of long-dead GIs that turn up in flea markets and souvenir shops are fakes, but Larry Greer, spokesman for the Pentagon's POW/MIA Office, told Newsday there was "nothing to indicate that it (Ray's) is not authentic." He said the stainless steel would not be seriously affected by years in the dirt.