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Jim “CrackerJack” Ray

Name: Jim Ray

Road Name: Crackerjack

FNG Year: 2005

How many times have you been All the Way?    12

And how many times have you been a Participant? 4

On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? Southern

What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? I have too many memories, both happy and sad to list here. 

Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run?  Fuel team, 8 years; Ambassador 4 years and current year

Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? 24-year Air Force Veteran, 2 ½ tours Vietnam in country
What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? I was looking for a group to travel to the Wall with and my wife found RFTW on the net.
What brought you back? Traveling with like-minded vets. and the comradery.
Have you participated in Rolling Thunder?  One time, never again. I found it to be more of a circus, not a solemn occasion. 
Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? No, not enough time.

Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE.” After my FNG ride in May 2005, I learned of a fellow Vietnam Veteran of the 18th Special Operation Sq.(18th SOS) Sgt, John O’Neal Rucker, that had been killed on “The last day of the war”, and had a memorial to him at the county court house in Lindale, Texas. I took a ride up there on Veterans day, 2005 and found they were having a ceremony for him as I arrived there. I meet his mom, brothers and sisters there and became fast friends with them. I learned that although I didn’t know Sgt. Rucker that I had contact with him during his short career. During my time as an Instructor in Block 4, Aircraft Maintenance, O’Neal, (as he was called by family and friends), was in one of my classes for a week. In 1971 I was assigned to the 18th SOS as a flight crew member on AC119K gunships. One of my duties before each night’s mission was to preflight the outside of the aircraft along with the assigned crew chief. I had to have interacted with him dozens of times. Starting in 2006, I rode every mission on RFTW for Sgt. Rucker and have been privileged to carry items to the Wall for his family. For the rest of my life, I will remember Sgt. John O’Neal Rucker and his sacrifice for our country