Jimmy Ray named Veteran of the Year by Veterans Council of Chatham County

Jimmy Ray
Jimmy Ray(WTOC)
Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 11:22 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - From Benedictine Military School to the United States Marine Corps, to leadership in most local veterans organizations, Jimmy Ray has been preparing for tomorrow.

One of the area’s most active veterans is excited about leading his hometown Veteran’s Day Parade as Chatham County’s Veteran of the Year.

While the Savannah Veteran’s Day Parade moves to a different location this year, there will be a familiar dace leading the procession. “Usually, I’m sitting right next to Mike during the Veteran’s Day Parade on Broughton and Bull,” Ray said.

Ray is moving from above the street to on them this year - as he leaves the WTOC broadcast booth - to lead the parade as Veteran of the Year as chosen by the Chatham County Veterans Council.

“Being selected by my peers really made me feel good. We’ve got 25 units and there’s 100 people in that unit, the whole thing. And they selected me to be the grand marshal to represent all the veterans of Chatham County this year,” Ray said.

Ray will be leading from experience. He was grand marshal of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2013 and has been active in several veteran organizations for decades - after serving with the Marines in Vietnam.

“I belong to American Legion Post 36. I’m in the Veterans of Foreign Wars because of my overseas duty. I was commanders of the Catholic War Veterans three years. I’m in the 40 and 8 Society, which is an honor society of the American Legion since 2004. And I’m also past chairman of the Veterans Council of Chatham County,” Ray said.

And Veteran of the Year is an honor he could have had sooner.

“I always looked at it, we still had World War II men that were alive, Korean War vets alive. And unfortunately, we are losing them,” Ray said.

When he finally does lead his hometown parade, it will be in Port Wentworth because the City of Savannah would not issue a permit for the large gathering.

“We didn’t want to break not having it, we’ve had it every year since 1949. We didn’t want to break, and we knew the city had to do what they had to do,” Ray said.

And Ray won’t be in his usual role of offering commentary for WTOC’s broadcast of the parade. But it will still be one of the most meaningful Veterans Days for one of the area’s most active veterans.

“It’s a wonderful honor to represent all of the veterans of all of the branches in this county; it’s like being a bridesmaid for 10 weddings and one day you finally get to be the bride,” Ray said.

Veteran of the Year is an honor Jimmy Ray could have had earlier, but anytime it was suggested, he deferred to older vets who had served in World War II or the Korean War.

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