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Taken by Monica Baan August 3, 2016

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Taken by Sean Claxton August 9, 2016

Update 2: The ABMC has dishonored a WWII Soldier buried in the Normandy American Cemetery.  6 days after Sgt Rayís new headstone with the correct date of death (13 June 1944) someone at the ABMC in the Virginia headquarters ordered Sgt Rayís headstone torn down and replaced it with the incorrect date of 7 June 1944. 

The workers at the Normandy American Cemetery stated this was done at the behest of Mr. Nosal.  Mr. Nosal is the one who signed off on the correct headstone date back in November last year 2015.  I find it hard to believe that the Chief External Affairs had the power to do this.  It took 9 months to have the new headstone installed but yet only 6 days to tear it down.  Nothing works that fast in the federal government, nothing.

An email was sent to the Secretary of the ABMC Mr. Max Cleland two days ago August 15, 2016, about this insult to a WWII Soldier who is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery.  There is no response from Mr. Cleland yet.  Here is a link to the email that was sent 2 days ago.

An email from Mr. Nosal came yesterday from a request I had made last Wednesday, August 10, 2016.  In the email, he stated that Sgt Ray's headstone was torn down at the request of Sgt Ray's widow.  I find that hard to believe as I had spoken with Mrs. Guidry's daughter to let her know that the headstone was being updated to the correct date.  Mrs. Guidry herself has stated she knew of the change months ago. 

Yet the ABMC just days after the new headstone was put into place that she now felt differently?  Even if that was true it wouldn't have allowed the old headstone to be put back up.  Once a widow or widower remarries they no longer have a legal standing in an issue like this.

Yesterday (August 16, 2016) Sgt Ray's sister was told that her brother's new headstone had been torn down by the ABMC and the old headstone had gone back up.  Mrs. Carlsen was very surprised that this had occurred.  Mrs. Carlsen said she always believed he didn't die right away in Normandy.  Her father John Ray Sr. received letters from Pfc Steele who saw Sgt Ray at the Field Hospital on Utah Beach it seems.  Steele always assumed that Sgt Ray went back to England like Steele had done on 10 June 1944.

The ABMC did not follow their own protocol in removing this headstone.  The real question is who ordered the removal of the correct headstone less that a week later?  Who has that kind of power? 

 

Brian Siddall

August 17, 2016
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Update 1:  The ABMC has agreed to change the date of death for Sgt Ray from June 7, 1944 to his correct date of death June 13, 1944.  Dealing with the ABMC is like pulling teeth.  It is sad that this organization throws up roadblocks at every turn.
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Original Article
Sgt John P. Ray of Co F of the 505th Prcht Inf was wounded in the hip and buttock[1] June 6, 1944 and died at 10:00 am June 13, 1944.[2]  He was buried at the 607 Macon Cemetery[3].  Graves Form #1 had all of the correct information about his death including Time and reason for death which was Gangrene.[4]  The 607th Graves Registration Company who buried Sgt Ray also had the correct date June 13, 1944.[5]  The EMT (Emergency Medical Tag) was transcribed in 1970 to the SGO (Office of the Surgeon) Report[6].   It also had Sgt Ray as dying after 8 days which was June 13, 1944.

The 607 Macon Cemetery was just off of Utah Beach.  The Cemetery was closed on June 18, 1944.  The bodies were moved from there to Ste. MŤre-Eglise No. 2 on June 27, 1944.  The time of date had been changed to June 6, 1944 which was wrong.  They also had him as Killed in Action which was wrong as well.[7]

The MR (Morning Reports)[8] for Co F of the 505th Prcht Inf of August 29, 1944 had the correct date as well for the death of Sgt Ray, June 13, 1944.  Written on the MR for that day it showed his date of wounds as being June 7, 1944 and his date of death as Jun 13, 1944.  The date of his would seem to be incorrect as EMT stated he was at the Field Hospital for 8 days which would match up with June 6, 1944.[9] 

The next mistake was done in Washington, D. C. when filling out the paperwork on September 8, 1944.[10]  When reading the Morning Report while filling out this form they read that he was wounded on that day (June 7, 1944) but didnít read the next 2 lines which showed his death as June 13, 1944. 

Sgt Rayís body was moved to the Normandy American Cemetery on December 15, 1944.  The Disinterment Directive left the date of death blank.[11]   At some point the ABMC (American Battle Monuments Commission) looked at the Report of Death Form and had the Headstone Date of Death as June 7, 1944.  If you look at the ABMC Website they still have him listed as June 7, 1944.[12] 

Sgt Rayís date of death was June 13, 1944 but because of a paperwork error on one form (the Report of Death Form) it is listed incorrectly.

I have contacted both R. Scott Moore, PhD, Director, Field Programs at the US Army Center of Military History and Robert J. Dalessandro, Deputy Secretary, Headquarters Operations at the ABMC about this issue. 

The US Army Center of Military History is loath to have a Headstone changed.  The ABMC the same and they look to the US Army Center of Military History.  I think I have found the main reason the ABMC won't change the Headstones, MONEY.  It would talk about $150,000 to put up new headstones through Europe for the 92 401st Gli Inf men.   

The reason Iíve updated Sgt Rayís death is because of a Post last night on Facebook.  Someone spoke of a book that was written by his wife Paula F. Guidry titled Treasures In My Heart.  A had never heard of the book before last night.  In one of the articles about the book Mrs. Guidry said that she didnít know about what had happened to her husband Sgt Ray until she read the book D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose.

I went and pulled down the book and went to page 211 where Ken Russell a Co F man spoke of Sgt Ray.  In the book Russell stated that he saw Sgt Ray get shot in the gut and while dying shot the German who had shot him in the gut.  The only problem with that is that Sgt Ray didnít die until June 13, 1944, not June 6, 1944.  I then went to the Endnotes of the book and it stated that this information came from a Ron Drez interview with Ken Russell. 

This is the problem with just taking the word of someone without doing fact checking.  Ambrose shouldnít have put that into the book.  If you canít prove your work it shouldnít be in a non-fiction book.  Russell was only in that area for a matter of seconds.  He assumed that Sgt Ray was dead when in fact he was still very much alive at that point.  

Ken Russell was part right about what happened to Sgt Ray.  He was shot and in agony but it took 8 days to die not right away.  Sgt Rayís wife Paula F. Guidry is under the impression that her Husband died at Ste. MŤre-Eglise right after being shot.  Since her book is based on the 100ís of letters they wrote to each other did he write to her from the Field Hospital?  If not he must have been in unimaginable pain not to written a goodbye letter.  Dying of Gangrene is a horrible way to go, no matter what the original wound.

History can be corrected[13] but it is very time consuming work and even then some people will look at all of the documentation and say that canít be true because I read something different in a book.  Just because Ambrose had it in a book doesnít mean itís true.  The source in this case about Ray dying just after being shot is only on the word of a fellow soldier, not the actual documentation.  Sgt Rayís death was much worse than the fictional account.

 

Brian N. Siddall

October 14, 2015

 

 

 


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