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First Name: Bernard

Last Name: Ray

Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Baldwin, NY
Middle Name: James

Date of Birth: 09 June 1921

Date of Death: 17 November 1944

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1943 - 1944
Bernard James Ray

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Bernard James Ray

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

First Lieutenant Bernard James Ray (9 June 1921 - 17 November 1944) was a U.S. Army officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in World War II.

Bernard James Ray was born on 9 June 1921 in Brooklyn, NY. He joined the Army from Baldwin, NY. On 17 November 1944, he was serving as a First Lieutenant in Company F, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhütte, Germany, that day, 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 for his heroism and self-sacrifice.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company F, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany, 17 November 1944.

Citation: He was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on 17 November 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.

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant Bernard James Ray was killed in action on 17 November 1944. He is buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY, in DSS, Grave 6.

Honoree ID: 1610   Created by: MHOH




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