Ray Barracks is located in the southern part of the city near the industrial area and has numerous facilities. It has its own firing range for personal weapons qualification, a small training area with a MOUT site, a Tactical Vehicle washrack and one for POV's, a regulation size track for sports, 2 baseball/softball diamonds, a rappelling tower, an excellent gym (complete with two racquetball courts, Nautilus equipment and a large selection of free weights), a post office, snack bar (with a Burger King Express, Robin Hood and Anthony's Pizza), bookstore, PX with Military Clothing Annex, Library, Arts & Crafts Center, an Auto Crafts Shop, MWR Movie Rental, a Bowling Alley, a small club, a locally operated Italian restaurant, and a small museum.
Since 1945 various American units have been stationed at Ray Barracks, most recently 3rd Armored Division and 1st Armored Division components. Ray Barracks, home for many units, among them 1st Brigade Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, is located in Friedberg approximately 50 miles north of Hanau. Friedberg's history as a garrison city dates back to 1645 when a company was formed there to guard the castle. The history of Ray Barracks as it is known today started around 1912 when the town requested a garrison be once again stationed in Friedberg.
Early in 1913 the construction of the casern started and by October of the same year four companies were stationed there. In the fall of 1914 the entire casern was completed. These buildings still exist today and house various 1st Brigade units and 284th BSB support agencies. During WWI the casern was used to confine Russian, French and English officers. After the war the police took possession of the casern until 1933 when Austrian sympathizers of the Nazi regime lived there. Once again, at the request of city officials, soldiers were stationed at Ray Barracks in 1938, the Wehrmacht's 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry. Additional buildings were constructed on the casern to make room for more soldiers. Most of these soldiers were eventually deployed to Russia and the Western Front.
The first American units occupied the kaserne in 1945. Various commands used the barracks until Combat Command C moved in on 13 February 1953. The barracks were named in honor of First Lieutenant Bernard J. Ray, Company 1, 8th Infantry Regiment, who was awarded the Medal of Honor after his death. Among the famous personalities who have served at Ray Barracks is the late Elvis Presley. Friedberg is a town with a history that goes back to the year 11 B.C. Friedberg's history as a garrison town dates back to 1645 when a company was formed there to guard the castle. Ray Barracks was originally built in 1900, known as Wattrum Kaserne, and used during WWI and WWII. During WWI, captured Russian, French, and English officers were confined to the kaserne. During WWII, the kaserne was occupied by two German infantry battalions.
Bad Nauheim is a housing area located 15 min from Ray Barracks. It is located in the valley of the USA River on the foot of the Johannisberg Hill, and has been colonized for several thousand years. The precious salt water from the springs, bubbling up through the ground, has drawn people to this area for a long time. Excavation findings from the stone age, bronze age, iron age, and from Celtic and old Germanic settlements, as well as from Roman and Franconian cultures, were found throughout the area. At one time, the salt walls even belonged to Napoleon I, who later gave them as a gift to one of his generals. Nauheim was a village with less than 2000 inhabitants around 1850 A.D. People lived mainly from salt and farming. Visitors came only to see the modest country bath houses or to use the first drinking or bathing springs. In 1869 Nauheim was officially called BAD NAUHEIM, which gave the town the status of a health spa town. The salty water is used to cure heart problems and other illnesses. Clinics were built to hold several thousand patients, who still come to Bad Nauheim to be cured.
1LT Bernard J. Ray was platoon leader with Company F, 8th Infantry, on 17 November 1944, during the drive through the Hurtgen Forest near Schevenhutte, Germany. The American forces attacked in wet, bitterly cold weather over rough, wooded terrain, meeting brutal resistance from positions spaced throughout the forest behind minefields and wire obstacles. Small arms, machinegun, mortar, and artillery fire caused heavy casualties in the ranks when Company F was halted by a concertina-type wire barrier. Under heavy fire, 1st Lt. Ray reorganized his men and prepared to blow a path through the entanglement, a task which appeared impossible of accomplishment and from which others tried to dissuade him. With implacable determination to clear the way, he placed explosive caps in his pockets, obtained several bangalore torpedoes, and then wrapped a length of highly explosive primer cord about his body. He dashed forward under direct fire, reached the barbed wire and prepared his demolition charge as mortar shells, which were being aimed at him alone, came steadily nearer his completely exposed position. He had placed a torpedo under the wire and was connecting it to a charge he carried when he was severely wounded by a bursting mortar shell. Apparently realizing that he would fail in his self-imposed mission unless he completed it in a few moments he made a supremely gallant decision. With the primer cord still wound about his body and the explosive caps in his pocket, he completed a hasty wiring system and unhesitatingly thrust down on the handle of the charger, destroying himself with the wire barricade in the resulting blast. By the deliberate sacrifice of his life, 1st Lt. Ray enabled his company to continue its attack, resumption of which was of positive significance in gaining the approaches to the Cologne Plain.
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