Below are some stories featuring his heroic acts and the history regarding the units he served with.
Note: July 17, 2009 - It is with regret that I pass along the news of Ray's death, July 15, 2009. Rest in peace. My condolences to Elena (his niece) and the rest of the Gonzales family.
Ray had five brothers all in the service. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Airborne. His father was classified 1-A. The combined service of the Gonzales family totals close to 27 years. Their mother said, "I feel proud that we had no slackers. They all volunteered."
Newspaper Article from San Antonio regarding Ray and his brothers
Marion's note: The term Rakkasan refers to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team.
Rakkasan Who's Who
DSC and Silver Star the Same Day - by Russ Brown, Editor
Cpl. Ray B Gonzales, now of Lincoln Park, MI, was wounded in two places and earned a Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star on the same day. And though the citations read like the script of a Rambo movie, they left out the most exciting part of the Korean action.
Gonzales received his DSC in ceremonies on the stage of the United Artists Theater in Detroit during a 1951 Christmas benefit fund drive for wounded, sick and injured veterans.
He joined the Army in July 1944 and got his jump wings at Ft Benning in January 1945 and was sent to the ETO as a replacement. He served briefly in the 80th AA Abn Bn, 82nd Airborne Division, before being assigned to the 155 AA Abn Bn, 17th Airborne Division. He saw action in the final two campaigns before the war ended.
At that time, volunteers were being sought for the South Pacific with a 30-day furlough as an enticement. A letter from a paratrooper friend who was going into the 11th Airborne Division, helped Gonzales make up his mind to volunteer.
He got back to the States with a bad case of jaundice. After 10 weeks in the hospital at Ft Bragg, he rejoined the 80th in New York for the January 1946 Victory Parade.
Gonzales played football for his division team in 1946.
Upon discharge from the Army he went to work in a Detroit auto plant. He played semi-pro football for the Windsor (Ontario, Canada) Rockets. The team name later was changed to the Windsor Bulldogs. He was about to try out for the Hamilton (Ont.) Ti-Cats when hostilities broke out in Korea and he volunteered.
He left Detroit in July 1950 and after getting his shots and clothing at Ft. Knox, Ky, was given a 10-day delay en route. He reported to Ft Campbell, Ky, and was assigned to "G" Company, 187th. It had almost been five years since he had made a jump. He made one jump with the regiment and that was all the training he got before being sent to Korea.
Gonzales didn't know the Rakkasan Association existed until a friend, Roy Benavidez, paid him a visit. The name of Rudy Hernandez (CMH) came. They both knew him. Benavidez had seen Rudy only a few months before.
Gonzales had not seen Rudy Hernandez since Jan 25, 1951, when they were on patrol together. Benavidez gave Gonzales a newspaper clipping about Hernandez. Gonzales put the clipping away and forgot about it until he was cleaning out his desk several years later and noticed Col. Bill Weber's name in it as president of the Rakkasan Association. He wrote to Weber for information about how to hook up again with the Rakkasans. He joined the National and the Wolverine (Michigan) Chapters and made the next reunion where he renewed his friendship with Rudy Hernandez after 37 years. They had breakfast and lunch together and together they recalled the names of numerous combat buddies.
The citation for Gonzales DSC reads, in part:
"Cpl Ray B Gonzales, a member of Company G, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Naigonggum, Korea. On 25 Jan 1951, a patrol of which Cpl. Gonzales was a member, was approaching the village of Naigonggum when a large enemy force opened fire from concealed positions and attacked the patrol. During the attack, Cpl. Gonzales and four comrades were cut off from the main body of the patrol.
"In the fierce fighting which followed, Cpl. Gonzales received a head wound and his right elbow was shattered by enemy machine gun fire. Disregarding his wounds, he immediately took command of the small group, deploying them and directing effective fire on the enemy. When the enemy launched a "banzai" attack in an effort to overrun his positions, Cpl. Gonzales, firing his carbine with his left hand, personally killed two of them.
"Repelling the assault, the group inspired by the heroism and courageous leadership of Cpl. Gonzales, continued to repulse subsequent attacks until dark, at which time he led them in a successful withdrawal from the enemy trap. Due to the rugged terrain and the large number of enemy operating in the area, he was forced to take a devious route to the company area, over steep snow covered mountains in sub-zero temperatures. Although painfully wounded himself, Cpl. Gonzales helped carry another man, wounded in the leg, back to the company.
"By his insistent demands that the group keep moving, he led them all night through the intense cold and arrived at the company area at 0600 hours the following morning. A medical examination revealed that, in addition to his wounds, his feet were frozen. His outstanding courage and tremendous fortitude resulted in all members of his group safely reaching friendly lines."
It is Gonzales' understanding that he had been recommended for the Medal of Honor but that the recommendation was downgraded somewhere along the line.
He is understandingly disappointed that the main part of the action was left out of the citation.
At the 1986 reunion in Nashville, Gonzales met Frank Scaizo, one of the men who was on the patrol with him. That man knew two others who were involved in the action that day.
Gonzales filled in the missing part for the Shimbun.
"Before the banzai", he said, "they threw two grenades at us. The first one landed only about two feet from the BAR man. I started to go for that one. Then I told them not to worry, that the pin was still half way in. Then the second one came. This one was cooking. I yelled to them to start shooting as soon as it went off because they were going to rush us."
"I jumped up and I was between the grenade and the BAR man. His name was Sullivan. The grenade went off and they (the enemy) came down the mountain. All I felt was the concussion behind me. I had to expose myself to see where they were coming from. If I had been in front of him, he would have cut me down too. They were duck soup..."
Marion's note: Sorry, this is where my article cuts off. I will try and retrieve the missings pieces.
Letter to Ray
The letter above was sent to Ray from the American Airborne Association, Inc., in regards to the possible upgrade of his DSC (Distinguished Silver Cross) to the MOH (Medal of Honor).
Excerpt from an article on Ray and his buddies from the 187th Airborne Division
General Westmoreland, Cpl. Ray Gonzales and Major General Cleland