Ray B Debusk, Jr

Lance Corporal
United States Marine Corps
31 January 1946 - 21 December 1966
Odessa, Texas
Panel 13E Line 067


Ray B. Debusk

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Ray B Debusk, Jr

09 Jan 2004

I met Ray my senior year in high school. Ray was attending Odessa College in Odessa, Texas at the time. This was in the fall of 1964. Ray and his younger brother, Cress, used to come into the hamburger and ice cream store where I was working. We used to chat and talk. I knew that they were not originally from Odessa, but had recently moved here.

Ray went into the Marines after his first semester at Odessa College. He was not happy and he was confused. His dad was a retired Major/Pilot with the Air Force. Apparently there was the typical father/son problems that happened with most of us in those days. His father was not happy about Ray going into the Marines.

Over the next two years Ray was in and out of Odessa on leave. I got to know him better. Ray developed an eye for my ex-girl friend, Barbara Owen. They began to date seriously when he came home on those leaves. Ray was home before he left to go to Vietnam. He and Barbara got engaged. Barbara brought Ray into the fold of our group and we all attended high school football games and this and that during the time Ray was home. Ray's old high school in Lubbock was playing Barbara's high school in a football game in Lubbock and we all attended. This game was for the Regional Championship. Barbara's high school won and went on to win state that year.

Just before Ray left for Vietnam, I think, just before the Thanksgiving break, I came out of a late afternoon class at Odessa College and I saw Ray standing at the end of the sidewalk. He was waiting on me. I thought this was peculiar. Ray told me that he wanted to talk with me and we went to the Student Union Building, got a coke and we sat down. Ray then said the strangest thing. He looked at me as cold as I had ever had anyone look at me and he said that he wanted me to look after Barbara after he was gone, because she would need me. I told him that was like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house, because he knew I still entertained strong feelings toward Barbara. He then told me that "he was not coming back" and said he knew how it going to happen. He said he was going to get shot in the face and he had had bad dreams about it for the past year. He told me that he had come to grips with it and it was his destiny. I told him he was full of shit.

Ray left for Vietnam a few days later. Three days before Christmas, December 22, 1966, we got the word that Ray had been killed in Vietnam. Ray was only in-country three weeks. Ray was on a patrol before the alleged Christmas truce of 1966. I was overwhelmed. During the past four months, five of my friends and acquantances from Odessa had been killed in Vietnam and Ray was the sixth. I also had a first cousin from California who was in a hospital in Japan, and he was not expected to live. He was a Marine who was injured by a booby trap. My cousin did live and is still alive today. This conflict was becoming too damned bloody for me.

It took about 2 weeks for Ray's body to come home. I went with Ray's brother Cress to the funeral home. There under one of Ray's eyes, was a hole that had been filled with embalmer's wax. God Almighty, Ray's premonition had come true. He had been shot in the face.

I was a pallbearer for Ray. He was buried in his father's home town of Slayton, Texas, in the Debusk family plot. It was hard, I still have chills today. Ray's father never got over his death and he blamed himself. He died in the late 70's and is buried next to Ray. Ray's brother Cress carried many demons for many years. He seems to have begun to successfully deal with them after many years of struggling. Ray's mother re-married and lives in Sanderson, Texas, near her family. Ray's maternal grandmother died last year and she was 101. Ray's mother is in her eighties now. Ray's finance left Odessa and later met and married a marvelous man. They live in Columbia, Missouri, and they have two wonderful daughters. I have remained in contact with Barbara for the past 37 years.

I went into the U.S. Army the next year in September 1967 and I served in Vietnam from February 1968-69. Contrary to Ray, I came home and was able to find and live a happy life.

Ray's death still haunts us all.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

LCpl Ray B. Debusk was one of three Delta 1/1 Marines killed that day; the other two were Cpl Bernard E. St Jean of Falmouth, MA, and PFC Charles H. Ball of Steubenville, OH.

Lance Corporal Debusk is remembered on the
Permian Basin Vietnam Memorial

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend,
Billy M. Brown
4015 Melody Lane, Odessa, Texas 79762
11 Jan 2004

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 05/16/2004