|From The Courier-Journal courier-journal.com
Sgt. Adam J. Ray called his mother last weekend from Afghanistan to let her know he was doing OK, and that his unit was heading back to their home base after a mission.
That is the last time his family heard from the 23-year-old, who the Defense Department said died Feb. 9 in southern Afghanistan from wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device.
“He just called and said his unit was on its way back, and that he loved us all, and promised he would not be a hero,” said Donna Ray, from the family’s home in North Dakota. “But he was a hero.”
The son of a military family, whose father is now a Christian minister, Adam lived in Louisville with his family for a decade. His father, Jim, grew up in Okolona, and the family has several relatives — including aunts, uncles and cousins and paternal grandparents, John and Doris Ray — who still live in the Louisville area, Donna Ray said. Adam’s maternal grandparents, Bobby and Marilyn Sumner, live in Tampa, Fla, where he was born.
Of Louisville, Donna Ray said, “We consider it home.” Adam attended Overdale Elementary School in Hillview and was home schooled before attending Oak Hill Academy, a Christian school in West Point, Miss.
His mother noted that the family maintains strong ties to Okolona Christian Church, where her son’s funeral will be held. Details of the funeral and burial are still being finalized with arrangements being handled by the Arch L. Heady & Son Funeral Home on Preston Highway. A Feb. 24 memorial service also is scheduled at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., where Adam was based, Donna Ray said.
Adam was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to serving in Afghanistan; he served a year-long tour of duty at Camp Casey, South Korea. During his service, he received several military honors including, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal-Army Service Ribbon. Donna Ray said the family learned this week her son also will receive a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation medal.
The Defense Department said Ray, who enlisted in April 2005, was on his first combat deployment and had been in Afghanistan since July. The Army promoted him posthumously to sergeant from his previous rank of specialist. It was not clear whether the incident in which Adam was killed was related to the joint Afghan-U.S. offensive to retake control of the city of Marjah from the Taliban.
A young man with a ready smile, Adam liked listening to Bob Dylan and Charlie Daniels, his mother said. He had recently taken up guitar, and was planning to travel with his Army buddies when their tour was over, Donna Ray said the family has been receiving phone calls and words of support from members of the military family in the wake of her son’s death. “Everybody has reached out for us in unbelievable ways. It has been so comforting. We can’t begin to say enough,” she said.
Ray said her son always wanted to make his family proud. He also had a funny side, and she recalled how he would often kid his family by pretending he was a University of Kentucky Wildcat fan when he knew many of them supported the University of Louisville Cardinals.
“He didn’t believe in hurting anyone. He was always protecting people,” she said. “He went out of his way to do things for people.…He was very thoughtful and very loyal.”
Donna Ray said her son, the third of five siblings, was dedicated to his family, which includes his 7-year-old nephew, Christopher, and his two older sisters, Betsy, 29, and Amanda, 26, and his two younger brothers, Zachary, 19, and Seth, 16. He had a tattoo done on his chest of a four-leaf clover that was meant to represent his mother and father, and four siblings, she said.
“Adam knew this could happen,” Donna Ray, said of her son’s death. “He planned for it last time he was home. He wanted to make sure his brothers and sisters were taken care of.…He loved them, and he loved God. He never stopped loving God and he never stopped loving his family.”
Donna Ray said her son never questioned his decision to enter the military. “He died not regretting doing what he was doing,” Donna Ray said. “He loved the Army. He hated the war because there was so much evil and sadness. But he faced it. He was not in the least bit regretting it.”
|Sgt. Adam James Ray
RAY, SGT ADAM JAMES, born March 9, 1986 in Tampa, FL, was killed in Action in Southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 when his unit was hit with an IED. Adam was attached to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
Adam has received several military honors, including Combat Infantryman Badge, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon and posthumously received a promotion to SGT and won the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.
SGT Ray has served in Ft. Jackson, SC; Ft. Benning, GA; Camp Casey, Korea and up to his death was stationed out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.