Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Morales Padilla, “Ray”, passed away on December 29th at the age of 89. He was currently a resident of Decatur, AL, formerly of Waterloo, AL. Survivors include his children: Jenny Goldman (Teresa), Frank Padilla (Kat), Phil Padilla, Jim England, Delanna Padilla Pennington (David) and Pilar Padilla (Liz). Grandchildren: Brandon, Stephanie, Ryan, Blake, Peirce and Grey. Friends who became his family: Wendy Keeler, Terry Robaina and Julie Douglas, Kristen Davis and Weston.
Ray Padilla was born on September 1, 1931 in Los Angeles, CA to Felipe Rosales Padilla and Adela Morales Padilla. He participated in ROTC through out high school and joined the U S Army on September 14, 1949 and arrived in Korea on August 5, 1950 assigned as a Rifleman to the 1st Platoon, Company L (Love Company), 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division located in the Pusan Perimeter. He fought in The Battle of Hill 296, one of the bloodiest battles in the Korean War. They were initially driven off the hill, and Padilla played a key role in single handedly taking out the communist forces, saving many lives.
During basic training he topped his class in Leadership School. PFC Padilla was an outstanding battlefield leader and fighter, and was quickly promoted to Squad Leader, then Platoon Sargent and acting Platoon Leader. On March 13, 1951, Ramon Padilla became the youngest Master Sergeant in the US Army at age 19, with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In April 1953, he was the youngest Sergeant Major at age 21. Ray was able to return to Hill 296 in June of 2014, once again climbing the Hill at the age of 83.
Ray also served during the Vietnam War from 1957-1974, stationed in Vietnam and Germany where he taught at the Seventh Army NCO Academy, Ft Benning and Ft Gordon, Georgia. He was an honor graduate at OCS and graduate of the Army’s toughest training unit, The Ranger School, where he also taught and was a qualified parachutist. He received his Bachelor’s degree from The University of Maryland, focusing on Military History in 1964 and taught Military Science at The University of North Alabama. He retired as a Lt. Colonel.
Ray was an avid learner all his life, spoke Spanish, German and dabbled in several other languages. When he entered a room, he captivated everyone, with his radio voice, his intelligence, jokes, laughter and song.
Ray never knew an animal he didn’t love and didn’t love him back. In his retirement years he adopted many animals that were abandoned and in his later years had a flock of ducks that he fed and would even come to visit him at his home.
Due to COVID, no services will be held at this time.
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