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Zulah 'Dawson' Ray



August 28, 1917 – January 04, 2019
Zulah Dawson Ray passed away peacefully on January 4, 2019 in Playa Vista, CA at the age of 101.

He was born in Blooming Rose, Missouri to Zulah V. “Boot” and Iva Dennison Ray on August 28, 1917. He was the third of nine children. All of his siblings preceded him in death.

Zulah Dawson graduated from Licking High School and made his way to California in 1939 to take part in the celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge Exposition. He held a few odd jobs in California before being called to join the Army on December 5, 1941. Zulah Dawson was assigned to a troop that moved into England. He was trained to be a technical gunner of a tank. In December of 1942 they invaded North Africa in a Sherman Tank. It was on Valentines Day in 1943 when Zulah Dawson was taken prisoner at the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid by the German Soldiers. Zulah Dawson was declared missing in action. At the time of capture, he was in a Sherman armored tank and a shell destroyed the tank causing an explosion. Zulah Dawson was burned on the face, hands and legs. He received little to no immediate medical treatment. He was eventually placed in a prisoner of war camp and sent to Barra, Italy on a Red Cross boat where he was imprisoned at Camp 59. Hysteria broke out at the camp which provided an opportunity for Zulah Dawson to escape after 16 months as a prisoner by hiding in tall grass and weeds. The German Soldiers searched within 20 feet of his hiding spot but he managed to remain undetected. Several Italian families helped him escape until he was able to find passage by hiding on a supply truck crossing Italy in July of 1944. He was placed on a plane to Algiers, Africa, then onto his final destination…home to America by boat. Zulah Dawson continued his service with the Army until the war ended in 1945. He was awarded a purple heart and a bronze star. In the coming days and years, he dealt with many physical and medical challenges.

Once he returned to civilian life and was reunited with his family, he decided to return to California where he began a career in the oil industry. He married Dorothy “Marie” Quisenberry on June 7, 1947 who preceded him in death on June 24, 2012 after 65 years of marriage.

His nieces, nephews, cousins and friends were taught so much by the way he lived his life. He always had a smile and never said a cross word to anyone. He will be dearly missed by all. Rest in peace.

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