Staff Sgt Ray Rangel of San Antonio‚ Texas was born to Federico and Cynthia Rangel‚ Jr. He was taken away from his family on February 13‚ 2005‚ at the age of 29 while on a rescue mission in Balad‚ Iraq. Staff Sgt Ray died doing what he loved to do – helping others when they were in need.
Staff Sgt Rangel attended South San Antonio High School where he played defensive back on the football team and was known as ‘Crazy Ray.’ That name fit his image perfectly because he was always playing jokes and he got along with everyone. Even as a teenager‚ Ray had been a selfless leader. He paid for his two younger sisters’ school clothes one year when his parents hit hard times. For a young man his age to think of others made him even more special.
Ray graduated in 1994 and enlisted in the Air Force. He got married and had 4 children‚ and settled in Abilene where bought a house. He was deployed for the last time to Iraq in late September 2004‚ having to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas apart from his family for the very first time in his life. This was very difficult‚ because whenever he was deployed he always made it back for the holidays.
Ray served as a firefighter for over 9 years‚ serving last with the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron. He attended the Department of Defense Lewis F. Garland Fire Academy at Goodfellow AFB‚ Texas. His advanced training included: Airport Crash Firefighting‚ Silent War (Infectious Diseases)‚ Nuclear‚ Biological and Chemical Domestic Preparedness (Awareness Level)‚ Emergency Response to Terrorism‚ Emergency Response to Domestic Biological Incidents Operations Level (WMD)‚ Terrorism Response/Emergency Care‚ and Critical Incident Stress Management (Basic). His career took him to Lackland AFB‚ Texas; Goodfellow AFB‚ Texas; Spangdahlem AFB‚ Germany; Whiteman AFB‚ Missouri; Clear AFB‚ Alaska; and Dyess AFB‚ Texas. His awards and decorations include: the AF Training Ribbon‚ Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Rifle)‚USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon‚ AF Longevity Service (1 device)‚ AF Overseas Ribbon Long‚ AF Overseas Ribbon Short‚ Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal‚ Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1 device)‚ National Defense Service Medal (1 device)‚ AF Good Conduct Medal (3 devices)‚ AF Outstanding Unit Award (2 devices)‚ and Air Force Achievement Medal (2 devices ). Ray also has two awards named in his honor: Staff Sgt Ray Rangel Award and the Ray Rangel Noncommissioned Officer Award which is given to fellow airmen in the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing that epitomize the selfless courage that he displayed. An American Legion was also renamed to Ray Rangel Post 399.
Even though he has been gone for 5 years‚ Staff Sgt. Ray Rangel is greatly missed and remembered as the firefighter who risked his own life for the sake of helping others.