Ray Alcorn was born in 1939 near Snyderville, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1961 and entered Naval Aviation Pre-Flight School in November 1961, receiving his commission on March 16, 1962. Alcorn was designated a Naval Aviator on June 14, 1963, and then attended the Naval Justice School from July to September 1963. He then joined Attack Squadron 36 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, where he flew the A-4 Skyhawk. He completed a Mediterranean Cruise aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60) shortly before joining Air Group 9 aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) for a West Pac cruise. LT Alcorn began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia in early December 1965, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and taken as a Prisoner of War while flying his 29th combat mission on December 22, 1965. After spending 2,609 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized at Bethesda Naval Hospital and then attended refresher flight training at NAS Kingsville, Texas, from September to December 1973. LCDR Alcorn next served as an instructor pilot with VA-174 at NAS Cecil Field from January 1974 to May 1975, and then served as Operations Officer for VA-83, also at Cecil Field, from June 1975 to July 1976. Alcorn served as the Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of VT-25 at NAS Chase Field, Texas, from August 1976 to 1978. He was head of the Tactical Air Training Branch on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare from July 1982 to May 1985, and then served as Chief of Staff for the Chief of Naval Air Training at Corpus Christi, Texas, from May 1985 to July 1987. Capt Alcorn served as Commanding Officer of NAS Fallon, Nevada, from August 1987 to July 1989. His final assignment was as Dean of Students at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he served from June 1990 until his retirement from the Navy on June 30, 1992.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Upon being captured in December 1965, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.