Jim Ray was born in 1941 in Longview, Texas. He was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC Program on January 17, 1964, and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings in May 1965. After completing combat crew training in the F-105 Thunderchief, Lt Ray was assigned to the 334th and 336th Tactical Fighter Squadrons at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina. He began flying combat missions with the 469th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, in April 1966, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on May 8, 1966, while flying his 11th combat mission. Lt Ray was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,472 days in captivity, Captain Ray was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. After hospitalization, Ray returned to flying status as an instructor pilot with the 465th Training Squadron at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, from April 1973 to May 1976. He next completed Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, in June 1977, and was assigned to the 339th Fighter Squadron from June to December 1977. Ray next served with the 347th Fighter Wing at Moody AFB, Georgia, from January 1978 to January 1982, before serving at Headquarters U.S. Air Force until April 1987. He was transferred to Rome, Italy, and served as Air Attache from April 1987 to April 1989. Col Ray's final assignment was as Commander of the 3300th Technical Training Wing at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, from April 1989 until his retirement from the Air Force on December 31, 1990.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions and propaganda materials. This American resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.