Charles A. Ray

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Charles A. Ray
Charles A Ray ambassador.JPG
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe
In office
December 9, 2009 – 2012
President Barack Obama
Preceded by James D. McGee
Succeeded by David B. Wharton
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs
In office
September 2006 – August 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Jerry D. Jennings
Succeeded by Robert J. Newberry
United States Ambassador to Cambodia
In office
January 4, 2003 – July 11, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Kent M. Wiedemann
Succeeded by Joseph A. Mussomeli
Personal details
Born 1945 (age 72–73)
Center, Texas
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Myung Wook-soe
Children Four
Residence Maryland
Alma mater Benedictine College
Univ. of Southern California
National Defense University
Occupation Ambassador
Profession Diplomat, Soldier, Author
Awards Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster
Humanitarian Service Medal
Website Official Blog of Ambassador Charles A. Ray
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1962–1982
Rank Major rank insignia Major
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Charles Aaron Ray (born 1945)[1] finished his 50-year career of public service in 2012 as the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe. He is a former Foreign Service Officer and career member of the Senior Foreign Service who held the position of U.S. Ambassador twice, and retired with the rank of Minister-Counselor. He is also a retired U.S. Army officer who was decorated twice for his actions in combat during the Vietnam War, and later served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs.

Early life, education, and military service

Born in Center, Texas, Ray earned his Bachelor's degree from Benedictine College in 1972, his Master of Science from the University of Southern California, and his second Master of Science from the National Defense University.[2][3]

Ray joined the United States Army in 1962 and retired 20 years later with the rank of major.[2][3][4] During his time with the Army, he served in Vietnam (1968–1969, 1972–1973), Germany, Okinawa, and South Korea.[3][4] In the course of his 20-year Army career, he earned two Bronze Stars and an Armed Forces Humanitarian Service Medal.[2]

Early diplomatic career

After retiring from the U.S. Army in 1982, Ray went to work for the U.S. State Department. During his tenure at the State Department, he served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and at the U.S. Consulate General Offices in Guangzhou and Shenyang, China. In 1998, he became the first U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.[2][3][4]

Ambassador to Cambodia

President George W. Bush appointed Ray Ambassador to Cambodia in November 2002. Ray arrived in Phnom Penh on December 26, 2002, and served there until July 2005.[1][2][3][4]

Return to Texas

After serving in Cambodia, Ray returned to Texas to become diplomat-in-residence at the University of Houston, where he recruited students to serve in the State Department and the Foreign Service. In that capacity, he was also responsible for community affairs and outreach with high schools and civic groups.[2][3][4]

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

In September 2006, President Bush appointed Ray as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs. He reported to Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates on administrative and policy matters relating to missing personnel. He was also responsible for creating policies and procedures for determining the status of all Americans missing in action, including rescuing all Americans endangered by combat operations.[2][3][4]

Ambassador to Zimbabwe

President Barack Obama nominated Ray as U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe on August 5, 2009. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and sworn into office on October 20, 2009. He arrived at his post in Harare in November, 2009.[2][3][4] His assignment in Harare ended in August 2012. He returned to the United States, and on September 1, 2012, retired from public service.


In June 2008, Ray's first book, Things I Learned From My Grandmother About Leadership and Life, was published. His second book, Taking Charge: Effective Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, was published in March 2009.[3][4] He has also authored more than 60 works of fiction and nonfiction.


Ray is married and has four children.[2][4]


  1. ^ a b "Cambodia". United States Department of State. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ambassador Charles A. Ray". United States Department of State, U.S. Embassy Harare. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brinkerhoff, Noel (December 23, 2009). "Ambassador to Zimbabwe: Who is Charles Ray?". AllGov. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ray, Charles. "About me". Helium. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State document "Ambassador Charles A. Ray".

External links

  • Official Blog of Ambassador Charles A. Ray
  • United States Department of State: Official Biography of Charles A. Ray
  • United States Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kent M. Wiedemann
United States Ambassador to Cambodia
Succeeded by
Joseph A. Mussomeli
Preceded by
James D. McGee
United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Succeeded by
David B. Wharton
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