Clovis Ray died in active duty in the Kunar Province in Afghanistan. The 34-year-old was born in San Antonio on July 6, 1977.
Clovis and his family moved to Three Rivers when he was young. They were on a fixed income and lived in government housing but that didn’t give Clovis a negative outlook on life.
“We grew up together in government housing in Three Rivers, and we overcame those struggles together,” said friend Jerry Herrera in an email. “His family took me in as one of their sons. Clovis was constantly encouraging me in my school work and sports, always pushing me to do my best.”
When it came to sports he excelled. He and his twin brother, Eddie, played varsity football for the Bulldogs. He was remembered as a terrific teammate.
“He was a leader and a motivator, determined to be the best in every aspect of his life,” Herrera said.
Others remember him fondly but not as a teammate.
“My memory of Clovis is when he and his brother, Eddie, would come into Mrs. Hedtke’s second-grade classroom and read to us,” said Kristin Ruschhaupt in an email. “I just remember thinking how ‘cool’ they were because, let’s be honest, to early elementary kids in a small South Texas town, high school football players are about as cool as it gets.”
After high school, both Clovis and Eddie went on the play college football at Macalester College in Minnesota. Clovis graduated with a degree in sociology and Eddie graduated with a degree in economics.
The two stayed in Minnesota after college and moved in together. Clovis took a job in banking.
When Eddie came to him and told him he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Clovis moved back to Texas.
They had been roommates their whole lives
“It’s like divorce for identical twins,” Eddie said in a phone call.
When they first moved apart, they spoke by phone almost daily for the first year and then the phone calls dwindled somewhat but not their closeness.
Clovis stayed with banking when he moved back to Texas, first in Houston and then in San Antonio, where he settled and married his wife, Shannon, in 2003.
Eddie said Clovis had always had an urge to serve his country. Their father, Bob Ben Ray, had served as a captain in the Army and was stationed in Korea when he met their mother. Eddie also remembers as a child volunteering with the VFW at the Poteet Strawberry Festival.
“It was in our DNA from an early age,” Eddie said.
Clovis had wanted to join the service right after school but the two had also wanted to play college football together so that took precedence over military service at that time. After Sept. 11, the yearning to serve his country became stronger and after the 2008 financial crisis, he knew he had to do something more.
At 32, he was in amazing shape.
Friend Ricardo Reyna said, “He loved running.” He was a marathon runner and had run more than a dozen marathons in his lifetime. Eddie said Clovis talked to Shannon to make sure he had her blessing and support.
“He loved his family first and foremost,” Eddie said.
At basic training, he scored the highest on his physical training test and was given an award for it.
Clovis continued on to officer candidate school where he finished in the top three of his class. After that he did some additional training with the U.S. Army Rangers before being stationed in Hawaii.
While he was not originally supposed to be deployed until a later date, he was sent overseas just before Thanksgiving 2011 to replace a lieutenant who had been injured and had to return.
Eddie said that Clovis was stationed near the Afghan-Pakistani border in an area that was mountainous. Clovis told him they had fire fights about every third day.
Clovis was supposed to return to Hawaii with his platoon in April.
“He was a leader and a motivator, determined to be the best in every aspect of his life,” Hererra said. “Clovis felt the call to serve his country, and was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. He is a true American hero, and he will never be forgotten.”
To honor Clovis and what he meant to the Three Rivers Bulldogs, his high school jersey number 26 has been retired.
Clovis is survived by his wife, Shannon, and son, Dean Ray of Wahiawa, Hawaii; his parents, Dr. Bob Ben Ray Sr. and Cecilia Ray; twin brother, Eddie (Kristine) Ray of Singapore; brother, Bob Ben Ray Jr. of Three Rivers, and sister, Jennifer Ray, M.D. (Lincoln) of Denver, Colo.; paternal grandparents, Clovis and Lillian Ray of Calliham; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff made a request to the governor’s office and it was granted to have flags at half staff. “On behalf of the Governor and our office, let me express our sincere condolences at the loss of this courageous Texan. Your community should be proud that it produced such an honored and brave man, said Greg Davidson Executive Clerk and director of Constituent Communication Division, Office of Governor. “All state and national flags in the County of Live Oak and any adjoining political subdivisions may be lowered on Friday, March 30, 2012, to half-staff in honor of the life and military service of United States Army 2nd Lt. Clovis T. Ray.”
A memorial service for Clovis will be held at the Live Oak County Coliseum on Saturday, March 31, at 10 a.m. Residents of the city are encouraged if they have flags to hang them outside this week in remembrance of a man who gave his life for our country.
Those who would like to show respect to the Ray family can pick up flags starting at 9 a.m. at either the Live Oak County Coliseum or Three Rivers City Hall and line the driveway to the coliseum or Highway 281 in front of city hall. The Ray family will be passing through town at 9:30 a.m. on the way to the memorial service.
“Freedom isn’t free,” friend and Three Rivers Mayor James Liska said. “Clovis gave his life for a country he believed in.”
In lieu of flowers, the Clovis T. Ray Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established and donations can be made at First State Bank in Three Rivers or mailed to Attn. Mary Ruiz, P.O. Box 550, Three Rivers, TX 78071.
Eddie said the money will be given in the form of scholarships to athletes who exhibit the same spirit that Clovis did. He hopes to give out the first one in May.