The Tailhook Educational Foundation
CAPT RAY ALCORN SCHOLARSHIP
San Clemente, California
This award honors Captain Ray Alcorn, US Navy light-attack pilot & 7 year Prisoner of War (POW). Ray decided to become a Naval Aviator when, as a teenager on his family farm in western Pennsylvania, he watched the Pittsburgh Air National Guard practice maneuvers. An F-102 pilot got Ray’s attention when he made a low pass over him while he was baling hay; Ray then vowed to trade his tractor for a jet. Ray became a Naval Aviator in 1963 and served in numerous squadrons flying the A-4 Skyhawk & A-7 Corsair II aboard several aircraft carriers. On 22 December 1965, aboard USS Enterprise off the coast of Vietnam, CVW 9 was assigned its first “Alpha” strike against the Uong Bi power plant outside Haiphong harbor. At the end of the day, 2 Navy pilots were dead, 2 listed as Missing in Action and the Uong Bi power plant was in rubble. Ray’s jet was shot down during the mission and the “Hanoi Hilton” was his home for the next 7 years & 2 months. After returning, Ray served as CO, VT-25 at NAS Beeville, TX and later CO, NAS Fallon, NV. While attending Naval War College in Newport RI, Ray was awarded 2 Master’s degrees. Ray’s final active duty tour was as the Naval War College’s Dean of Students. Captain Alcorn’s decorations include 2 Silver Stars, 4 Legion of Merit Awards, Distinguished Flying Cross, 3 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts, Meritorious Service Medal, 2 Strike Flight Air Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, POW Medal, and several US & Vietnamese Campaign Ribbons. After retiring in 1992, Ray lived in Carson City, NV and was appointed by Governor Kenny Guinn to serve as the Nevada Office of Veterans Services’ Executive Director. When asked about Ray, the governor said "In addition to being a genuine American hero, he's a guy with a proud, proven record in military affairs and a well-deserved reputation for taking on tough tasks and getting the job done." Ray explains his decision to remain in the Navy after returning home came partly from having 12 years of US Navy service, but mostly from his desire to avoid a tractor again.