David Robert “Bobby” Ray was born on 14 February 1945 in McMinnville, Tennessee, and graduated from McMinnville High School in June 1963. He then spent the next three years studying at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. On 28 March 1966, at age 21, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed recruit training at U.S. Naval Training Center, San Diego, California, followed by Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego. He was advanced to hospitalman on 20 June 1966. 

Hospitalman Ray was then assigned to duty aboard the hospital ship USS Haven. He transferred to Naval Hospital, Long Beach, California in December 1966. During this time he was advanced to hospital corpsman third class on 16 April 1967 and hospital corpsman second class on 16 April 1968. In May 1968, HM2 Ray reported for training at the Field Medical Service School, Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California. In July of that year, he reported to 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division, in Phu Loc, Quang Nam Province, Republic of Vietnam. 

On 19 March 1969, the Marines’ position at Phu Loc Six suffered a surprise attack by a determined, battalion-sized force. Heavy fire from mortar, rockets, flamethrowers, grenades, and small arms battered the area and resulted in numerous casualties. HM2 Ray, ignoring the incoming fire, moved from casualty to casualty, rendering aid to as many Marines as possible before he was severely wounded. HM2 Ray refused aid for himself and continued to administer medical aid. At one point, as he was tending to a wounded Marine, two enemy soldiers attacked his position, forcing him to defend himself by killing one and wounding the other. Although losing his strength due to his own wounds, HM2 Ray continued to other casualties, taking up arms to defend his patients until he ran out of ammunition. When a grenade landed close to a wounded Marine he was treating, HM2 Ray threw himself on the body of his patient to protect him from the blast. Grenade fragments killed HM2 Ray instantly. 

For his selfless devotion to duty, HM2 Ray was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, presented to his family on 20 April 1970 by Vice President Spiro T. Agnew. He was laid to rest in Mountain View Cemetery in his hometown of McMinnville. 

In addition to the Medal of Honor, he also received the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with star, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. The destroyer USS David R. Ray (DD-971) was named in his honor and launched on 23 August 1974.

Naval Personnel Awarded the Medal of Honor While Serving With Marine Units