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Air Force veteran whose story was told in 'Black Hawk Down' dies

S/Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Bray's actions in Somalia in 1993 earned him a Silver Star and were later portrayed in the movie, “Black Hawk Down.” He died Oct. 24 at the age of 49.

COURTESY BRAY FAMILY

By JUDI BRINEGAR | The Courier-Tribune (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 29, 2016

ASHEBORO — A recognized hero, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Wayne Bray, 49, a Randolph County, N.C. native, died Oct. 24 at Columbus Regional Healthcare.

You might not know his name, but his actions in Somalia in 1993 earned him a Silver Star —and those actions were later portrayed in the movie, “Black Hawk Down.”

Bray was born in Randolph County in 1966, the son of Martha Woodell Lindsey of Asheboro and the late John Franklin Bray.

Bray was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Air Force, a Senior Airman who served with a Combat Control Team.

According to a 1994 article in Air Force Magazine, a Somali gunman firing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher shot down a U.S. Army MH-60 helicopter, sending the aircraft and its load of Rangers plummeting into the streets of Mogadishu in October 1993. Bray, a combat controller, along with TSgt. Timothy A. Wilkinson and MSgt. Scott C. Fales, both pararescue technicians, played a major role in sustaining the wounded and beating back the attacks of the surrounding Somali forces.

All three were assigned at the time to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope AFB. For his actions in Mogadishu, Wilkinson received the Air Force Cross, the Air Force’s highest honor. Sergeants Fales and Bray also were honored, each winning a Silver Star.

Bray served with the main Ranger force whose goal had been to capture Aideed’s top lieutenants.

Bray was presented with the Silver Star award by President Bill Clinton “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Mogadishu, Somalia, from 3 Oct. 1992 to 4 Oct. 1992.”

On those dates, Staff Sergeant Bray, a 24th Special Tactics Squadron Combat Controller, was attached to a joint service search and rescue security team tasked to respond to the crash of the United States UH-60 helicopter. While serving with a U.S. Army Ranger element trapped and surrounded inside a building in the city, Bray coordinated helicopter gunship fire on targets all around his position throughout the night. He developed tactics and techniques on the spot that allowed him to mark friendly forces’ locations so that helicopter gunships could destroy close enemy concentrations.

“By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Staff Sergeant Bray has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force,” Clinton said.
Bray’s family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Saturday at Peacock Funeral Home in Whiteville. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

He is survived by his wife, Sherry Blackman Bray; his mother, Martha Woodell Lindsey of Asheboro; one brother, John Wayne Bray and wife Nora of Raleigh; and one sister, Stephanie Michelle Lindsay of Asheboro.

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©2016 The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro, N.C.
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