Ray Gauntt

Sharna Johnson

Gauntt said native children on the islands would scale a tree and return with a coconut…

Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.

Ray Gauntt
Age when entered service: 21
Dates of service: 1941-1946
Hometown: Omaha, Texas
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: South Pacific; New Caldonia, Hawaii
Branch: Army
Rank: Corporal
Specialty: Baker
After discharge: Roswell
Veterans organizations: VFW, Disabled American Veterans

In his words: Gauntt said native children on the islands would scale a tree and return with a coconut or bunch of bananas in exchange for a pack of cigarettes.

As a whole the jungles in the South Pacific was an intriguing change of pace for them. Gauntt recalls watching the amusing antics of the monkeys as they played in the trees, entertainment to the otherwise bored men.

Gauntt was injured while operating machinery. Medical personnel spent months trying to save his mangled fingers. In the hopes of keeping the tissue in his damaged hands alive until it was healthy enough for reconstruction, he said incisions were made in his legs and his hands were stitched inside them. Gauntt needed help for six weeks with everything from bathing to eating. In the end only one finger was lost —although Gauntt was permanently disabled from the event.

Following the war, Gaunt returned home and got married.

World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
sharna_johnson@link.freedom.com