On September 9th, Ray “Doc or Padre” Johnson, a Navy Chaplain and trained medic, spoke to over 150 veterans and guests at our annual Vietnam Era Veterans Remembrance Day. Ray shared a message filled with humility, humor and integrity, of his time while serving with the Special Forces “Black Berets River Raiders” River Assault Force One.
On a single day, in a single battle, June 19th, 1967, 63 American servicemen were killed and 168 wounded. Many of those wounded survived as a result of “Doc” Johnson’s resolve to go repeatedly into the field for his fellows soldiers, even while wounded twice himself. His commanding officer of River Division 111 said “he could not understand how he survived the hailstorm of bullets, grenades and mortars.” For his bravery that day, “Doc” Johnson was awarded the Navy Cross, even though General Fulton of the 9th Infantry Division recommended the Medal of Honor.
For his service in Vietnam, Ray Johnson was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. After his military service, Ray returned to ministry with the Lutheran Church, worked to create drug prevention programs, and has become a world renowned artist along with his world wide humanitarian projects.