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Ray Joseph Hutchinson

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A soldier's story of heroism is often hard to tell because the tale can involve the sacrifice of his life for his country. And so it is that SPECIALIST RAY JOSEPH HUTCHINSON, who was born in Houston and served with the Army's 101st Airborne division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, died on December 7, 2003 in Mosul, Iraq. Ray Joseph was only twenty years old, but in that short time his life touched many others. As a child, Ray Joseph was bright, sensitive, thoughtful, and riotously funny. He carried those qualities into adulthood and added discernment, courage, determination, and strength. As a man, Ray Joseph could illuminate a room just by smiling, and his friends say that he laughed easily and often. He excelled in athletics and won several awards for his rock climbing and martial arts skills. He loved to water ski, snow ski, snowboard, roller blade, and mountain bike. His joy for living was boundless. After graduating from Clear Creek High School in 2001, Ray Joseph attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos for one year before deciding he wanted to serve the country that he loved. He was a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. Ray Joseph joined the Army in August 2002 and took his infantry training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. There he quickly excelled, graduating as the Distinguished Honor Graduate. He was awarded entry into Airborne school and won his wings in January 2003. He received an assignment to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and deployed to Kuwait in February, 2003. Ray Joseph participated in the entirety of Operation Iraqi Freedom and saw Iraq on foot and from atop a HMMWV and behind the sights of an M240B machine gun. He was there from the initial push across the deserts, through An Najaf, Karbala, Baghdad, and into Mosul. During this time he distinguished himself enough to earn the coin of the Sergeant-Major of the Army, the Army Commendation Award, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. It was also in Mosul that he died. An incredible light has been taken from us, and we will be forever empty without Ray Joseph's presence. He is a hero in the truest sense of the word. He served the United States of America in accordance with his military oath, and he paid his life's blood so that others might be free. He did this without remorse or complaint, never failing in the countless missions he was asked to perform. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for all things and that nothing happens according to chance. Ray Joseph's family loved him, and they know that God had a reason for calling him home when He did. The stars will shine out even brighter now that Ray Joseph's brilliant soul is among them. Though he is absent from the body, he is present with the Lord. The Funeral Service will be held at 10:00am Tuesday, December 16, 2003, at Sagemont Church, 11300 South Sam Houston Parkway East. Interment will follow in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 14, 2003
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