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Local Student to Honor WWII Soldier’s Sacrifice

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New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School student Kalie Indest was one of 15 students selected to travel to Normandy, France this June. Kalie was selected by her teacher, Ms. Melanie Boulet, who will also be going on the trip. This trip is sponsored by National History Day and the Normandy Scholars Institute. Kalie will be immersed in a deep study of D-Day in the months leading up to her trip. She will be reading Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day, Alex Kershaw’s The Bedford Boys, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe, and several more books.

In Normandy, Kalie will be honoring Sergeant John P. Ray of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regt, 82nd Airborne Division. Ray was born in Gretna, Louisiana and dropped into Ste Mere Eglise on June 6, 1944. Ray’s actions that morning are recalled in Ambrose’s D-Day:

Sgt. John Ray landed in the church square, just past [Ken] Russell and [John] Steele. A German soldier came around the corner. “I’ll never forget him,” Russell related. “He was red-haired, and as he came around he shot Sergeant Ray in the stomach.” Then he turned toward Russell and Steele and brought his machine pistol up to shoot them. “And Sergeant Ray, while he was dying in agony, he got his .45 out and he shot the German soldier in the back of the head and killed him.”

Kalie came to The National WWII Museum to view artifacts donated by Sgt. Ray’s family and read letters written by Sgt. Ray’s brother Stanley. She viewed a photograph of John and Stanley reuniting in England in January 1944 and held the Western Union telegram informing the family that John had been killed in action.

In Normandy, Kalie will be preparing a eulogy to read at Sgt. Ray’s grave site in the Normandy American Cemetery. She will also create a web site honoring Sgt. Ray’s sacrifice. She will be researching the 82nd Airborne, and will give a talk to the Normandy Scholars in front of the church in Ste Mere Eglise, near Sgt. Ray’s landing spot.

As the sponsor of National History Day in Louisiana, The National WWII Museum is honored to have Kalie and Ms. Boulet selected for this trip of a lifetime and looks forward to assisting Kalie with her research.

This post by Louisiana History Day Coordinator Nathan Huegen.

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