Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Ray J. Avila. Ray served from 1943 to 1945 during World War II.

Ray was a member of the 38th Infantry Regiment in the 2nd Infantry Division. On June 8, 1944, two days after D-Day, he landed on Omaha Beach. The area was still being shelled and under machine gunfire. His unit then advanced for about six months. On December 17, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, Ray received orders to set up a line of defenses outside a small Belgian town and stand guard outside a Belgian house. German troops began putting grenades in every room of the house, one of which knocked Ray unconscious. He was then captured as a prisoner of war.

Ray was taken to prisoner of war camp Stalag 4B where he worked in a foundry, digging graves and pulling disabled vehicles from snow and mud. In April 1945, the Germans marched some of the prisoners of war, including Ray, out of the camp. They stopped at an old barn for the night where Ray decided to escape with some of his fellow troops. They broke out of the barn and traveled across the countryside, eventually reaching Russian territory. After much traveling, they found American troops in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, where Ray was reunited with the 2nd Infantry Division. The war came to an end shortly after and Ray went back home to Kansas.

Thank you for your service, Ray!

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at

Graphic By Gavin Fukawa: Gavin Fukawa is a Political Science and International Affairs Major with a Japanese and Environmental Science Minor at Wake Forest University.

Share this story

Published on Apr. 3, 2018

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 73

More Stories

  • Navy Veteran Calvin Leon Graham became the youngest World War II soldier at the age of 12, and the youngest recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Horace Poolaw, who became a well-known photographer of Native American life.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Deborah Jo Pereira, who enlisted in the military at a unique time in her life and in American history.