RIDGECREST, CA, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, K CO, 3D BN, 3D MAR, 3D MAR DIV (TF MP, II MEF FWD) KANEOHE BAY, HI RAMADI, IRAQ 04/16/2009
When Marine Lance Corporal Ray A. Spencer II and his future wife were first getting to know each other, they found a mutual interest in history. Spencer’s favorite eras were Greek and Roman. He liked stories of ancient battles. “Nerdy stuff,” remembered Athena Spencer.
Tall, on the skinny side and well-liked by his classmates, Spencer was determined to be a soldier, even against the advice of his father and Anderson, who assured him the military “wasn’t all guns and glory and pretty uniforms.”
As a teenager, Spencer had a great sense of humor that Anderson said got him “in little bits of trouble.” He was also a leader.
“The students just loved the guy,” Anderson said. “They would follow him anywhere.”
While in boot camp, the teenager returned to Burroughs with a recruiter, “gung-ho” and “very proud of that uniform,” Anderson recalled.
Spencer, a rifleman, was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
He shipped out for his first deployment to Iraq in July 2007, about the same time he struck up a phone and e-mail relationship with Athena. Friends had put them in touch.
“He was really sweet and caring and just different from other guys,” said Athena, 20.
They didn’t meet until March 2008, when Spencer was home on leave visiting family. Within months, they were married and she joined him in Hawaii.
“He was perfect for me. Everything I ever wanted in a person,” Athena said. “I don’t know anyone who ever disliked him.”
She said her husband wanted to make the military a career because he felt he would be doing something good with his life. He returned to Iraq this spring. But days into his second deployment, on April 16, he was killed in a non-combat related incident. He was 20 years old.
Ray Spencer was born in Hanford, Calif., and spent his childhood with his grandmother and aunt in the Los Angeles area. In 2002, he moved to Ridgecrest to live with his father.
“He was a great kid, my only son. I loved him very much,” his father said. “I never approved of him going in the military . . . I figured me doing 22 years was more than enough.”