Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County Announce College Scholarship Opportunity In honor of S/SGT James M. Ray, Prisoner of War

The Vietnam Veterans of Ventura county is honored and humbled to again offer a scholarship. For 2018, the S/SGT James M. Ray Scholarship has been set at one $2,000 and two $1000 awards for the competitive essays scholarship named in honor of one of America’s Prisoners of War in the Vietnam Conflict.

Who is eligible?

Applicants must be:

1). A student enrolled in the 12th grade and properly enrolled in a public, private, parochial high school, or a home studies program in the County of Ventura


2). Enrolled in at least 6 units at one of the Ventura Community Colleges.

How do I apply?

  1. Obtain a copy of the application papers from your career councilor or you can find them online at Type or neatly print the information outlined in the application.  You may reproduce the application if necessary; however the format and content of the application may not be altered in any way.

  1. Application must be signed and dated by applicant.  If applicant is under the age of 18, parent, step-parent or guardian must sign and date the application also.
  2. Have your high school counselor, college department chair or college instructor, fill out the Scholastic Reference Form and return it to you.  (You must include this form when submitting the application)
  3. Return completed application packet (Scholarship Awards Application, Scholarship Essay and Scholastic Reference Form) by April 15, 2018 to: 

Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County, Inc.

ATTN: Scholarship Committee

S/Sgt Jimmy Ray Scholarship

P.O. Box 3218

Ventura, CA 93006-3218

Selectees will be notified in May 2018 and scholarships will be presented at the Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County’s general membership meeting in June 2018.  Be prepared to read your essay to the membership.

Important things to Remember:

All documents must be postmarked on or before April 15, 2018.  Only complete packets will be reviewed and eligible for consideration.


James M Ray

James M. Ray

Staff Sergeant E-6, U.S. Army

U.S. Army 1967-1969
Cold War 1967-1969
Vietnam War 1968-1969 (POW, Died in Captivity)

Jim Ray was born on November 10, 1949, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967 and was trained in military intelligence. Private Ray went to Vietnam in 1968 and was captured by the Viet Cong near Di Linh, Lam Dong Province, South Vietnam, on March 18, 1968. He was with a unit of the South Vietnamese Army on a road clearing mission when they came under attack. Ray was wounded by an explosion but managed to return fire on the enemy before he was taken captive. Sgt Ray managed an escape attempt from his captors in July 1969, but he was quickly recaptured. Sgt James Ray died in captivity on November 30, 1969. His remains have never been returned to the United States.

His Silver Star Citation reads: Staff Sergeant James M. Ray is awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against an armed enemy while serving as a Prisoner of War in South Vietnam during the period July 1969. Sergeant Ray distinguished himself by attempting to escape from an enemy prison camp. He recognized that odds for success were slight and if he was recaptured he would receive severe torture, long periods of solitary confinement, and possible death by execution. Although he was recaptured, he maintained strong conviction in the Code of Conduct. In June 1969, Sergeant Ray was punished for violation of camp regulations by being placed in double chains, one on each ankle. Then in July 1969 while en route to the latrine, he attempted to escape by assaulting a guard. At that time, he had a chain locked to each ankle and was carrying the excess chain in each hand. As he approached the guard sitting on a stool in the guard hooch, he suddenly stopped, dropped the chains, and hit the guard in the face with his fist, knocking him from the stool to the ground. He then reached and grabbed the guard’s rifle and started to turn when he slipped and fell. As Sergeant Ray fell to the ground, the additional guard who unlocked him jumped on him, wrapping the chain around his neck and began beating him with his fist. The guard who had been knocked to the ground got up and started to kick and beat on Sergeant Ray. Then both guards wrapped Sergeant Ray in the chains and locked them and then threw him into his bunker. He was left overnight wrapped in the chains and the next day he was again secured to his bunker with two chains, one attached to each ankle.

He was not allowed outside his bunker, and his rations were cut to one meal a day. Shortly after this, he was removed from the camp and was never seen again. This extreme gallantry exhibited by Sergeant Ray was amply illustrated by the fact that so few prisoners ever tried to escape, primarily due to the rigid security measures imposed by the camp. This courageous escape attempt served more than to merely get him out of the prison camp. More guards were required, and prisoner morale soared. This act of gallantry, with recognition of the grave risk to his own life, demonstrated a great devotion to duty and his country, which reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Army.

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