Salute To A Fallen Airmen – Walter Ray
Photorecon along with Strategic-Beer-Command took a trip today to pay respect to a fallen airman Walter L. Ray.
Walter Ray was a civilian pilot for the CIA flying it’s then classified Lockheed A-12 Oxcart. He was lost January 5th 1967 while piloting A-12 (60-6928 / 125) on a test flight out of Groom Lake, Nevada. Walter had been married only three months when he took off from Groom Lake and left behind a widow Diane.
Walt was executing a test plan labeled “66-12” and using the call sign “Dutch 45”. There was a problem with the aerial refueling and his aircraft received 5000 lbs less fuel than scheduled. Adding to that, the aircraft seemed to have a faulty fuel gauge indicator which lead to disaster when Walter was forced to eject after running out of fuel. Due to a malfunction in his ejection seat and other unknown reasons Walt never separated from his seat and plunged to his death.
Those of us that gathered this day wanted to honor this man who gave his life, serving his county. We made this trip into a very remote place in the Nevada Desert. The hard to reach location only adds to the importance of this trip and motivated us even more. This memorial was created by Jeremy Krans. He and his friends gathered to place this A-12 replica on a rocky outcrop very near where Walter lost his life. Looking at the picture you can appreciate the remoteness and grander of this mountain area. Walter picked the highest peak of the whole range.
There were sounds of two F-15’s flying over head engaged in a mock dogfight during our time there and it seemed like a fitting end to our day. After placing the memorial and securing it to the rock outcrop we drank a beer in his honor and departed back out the way we had came in.
I’d like to thank the following for their help.
Jeremy, Alex, Robin, Eric, Susan, Katherine and Mercedes.
Read more of Walt’s story here.