Life was good. Stationed in Hawaii as the Mobility Officer for the 3rd Marine Regiment, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kacy Ray and his wife, Lilian, were enjoying the island lifestyle. Then, on a bright spring day, their lives were thrown into turmoil by a single phone call.
It was April 2011. Ray was pulling into the embarkation lot when his cell phone rang. It was his uncle from Miami, and from the tone of his voice, Ray immediately knew something was wrong. He remembers hearing words that echoed in his ears and made no sense – “Your parents were on vacation… driving through Tennessee… there was an accident… no survivors…” Thrown into a state of shock, he found himself unable to form or hold a coherent thought. “I was entirely unable to function. I knew I needed to do something… but I wasn’t sure what. I remember hearing the sound of people expressing sympathy and shock, offering to help in any way they could, but none of it made sense to me. Looking back, the task seems simple – book a flight to the mainland, pack my bags, rent a car, figure out where to stay when I got there… child’s play for a professional Mobility Officer. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t put all the pieces together. I could hardly hold a conversation with my wife, let alone make airline reservations.”
When you live in military housing, everyone is family. Ray’s neighbors were there to help, and one of them worked at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society office at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Someone drove him to the NMCRS office and within three hours, the Rays were on a flight to Asheville, NC.
“It was help that I needed – just when I needed it.” says Ray. “I always thought of the NMCRS as an organization that helps out with financial problems, but I now have a much better appreciation for the safety net they provide for those who, for whatever reason, need immediate assistance. My problem wasn’t a lack of resources, it was incapacitation. I’ll always be grateful to NMCRS for stepping in and giving me one fewer thing to handle at a time when I had no ability to handle anything.”
Today, Captain Ray volunteers as the 2018 Active Duty Fund Drive coordinator for his command, Marine Corps Systems Command, sharing his story of how NMCRS helps Marines and Sailors when life throws them a curve ball. “NMCRS was there for me when I faced the most devastating event of my life”, he tells his Marines. “Your donation to the Society means a fellow Marine or Shipmate will get the assistance they need, when they need it.”