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John P. Ray

505th Parachute Infantry Regt, 82nd Airborne Division

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Louisiana

Died:

6/7/1944

Grave Location:

Plot E, Row 26, Grave 36

Sgt. John P. Ray was a paratrooper in the 505thParachute Infantry Regiment of the 82ndAirborne Division. Ray was born and raised in Louisiana, and joined up to fight in World War II along with his brother. They were inspired by their father, a veteran of World War I. Before D-Day, Ray participated in invasions in North Africa and Sicily. He was considered a skilled and capable paratrooper.

Sgt. John P. Ray's wife, Paula F. Guidry.

On D-Day, Ray and two other paratroopers participated in the initial parachute drops of Operation Overlord. They were to land near Sainte-Mère-Église. As they descended, a nearby house had caught fire and lit up the entire sky. A large number of German troops were keeping an eye on the civilians who were trying to extinguish the fire. Clearly visible, many of the men from Ray’s same aircraft were killed in the air or right after they landed in the trees or power poles that bordered the town. Ray landed right next to a German guard who shot him immediately.

Ray (left) and members of the 2nd Platoon mortar squad, F Company, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. 1944.

The guard believed Ray to be dead, and turned around to kill two other men. Although mortally wounded, Ray managed to pull his .45 automatic pistol out of his chest holster and shot the German guard before he was able to kill the two other American paratroopers.

Paratroopers of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment take positions around Sainte-Mère- glise during the morning of June 6, 1944.

Awards: Purple Heart

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John P. Ray is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot E, Row 26, Grave 36.