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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Wray Donley McQuay

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Sir Winston Churchill

Wray Donley McQuay was born in Grafton, Taylor County, West Virginia, on July 6, 1920, to Anna L. and Samuel B. McQuay. Mr. McQuay was listed in the 1920 Federal Census as a presser in a glass factory. The family was living in the Courthouse District of Grafton. By the time the 1930 census was recorded, the family had moved to Washington, Pennsylvania. Mr. McQuay was listed as a foreman in a glass factory. Listed as their children were Paul, Thelma, Wray, and Charles. In the 1940 census records, the family was shown to be at the same address, with only Wray and Charles at home. Mr. McQuay was still a foreman at the glass factory.

On February 16, 1942, Wray McQuay registered for military service in Washington, Pennsylvania. He was unemployed at the time but was a student. When he enlisted on October 31, 1942, he entered military service in Pittsburgh. He'd had three years of high school education and was single without dependents. Both his draft registration and enlistment record state that his home state was West Virginia. In addition, his enlistment document states that his state of residence was West Virginia at that time.

Wray McQuay entered service on October 31, 1942, and entered foreign service in May of 1943, according to an application for World War II compensation. This application states that Wray McQuay's place of birth was Grafton, West Virginia. If he was immediately placed with the 145th Infantry, 37th Division, he is presumed to have joined them in the South Pacific, where they'd been since May 1942. ("Manila Would Do," National Guard, accessed 10 March 2020, At that time, the 37th was on Rendova Island and then Bougainville. The 37th was part of the Ohio National Guard and called the "Buckeye" Division. Wray McQuay joined the fighting on Bougainville as a terrible battle to win control of the island was about to begin. Bougainville had been occupied by the Japanese since March of 1942, their having wrested it from Australia and begun building airfields and reinforcements for their positions. When the Allies came to retake the Islands and gain the airfields, they faced a thoroughly dug in and extremely committed army of Japanese soldiers. Casualties mounted, but progress was made over the years through 1944. As the year closed, a much-anticipated rest in New Zealand was denied. The Buckeyes were reassigned to General Douglas MacArthur's command to enhance manpower as the general headed to the Philippines. (Tyler Webb, The Battling Buckeyes of the 37th Infantry Division, Research Thesis, The Ohio State University, March 2018, accessed 14 April 2020,

On January 9, 1945, the attack on Luzon began, with Manila in the sights of the invading forces. The 145th Infantry Regiment landed on January 9 and was greeted as liberators by the people of the Philippines. The troops moved swiftly inland, suffering casualties and losses, but were racing to Manila by the end of January 1945. The city limits were breached the first week of February, and the Americans conducted a campaign to take the city by moving through it, fighting as they went. Opposition was insubstantial until Manila was reached, where a much more concentrated and determined Japanese army was found south of the Pasig River. (Dale Andrade, "Luzon: 1944-1945," U.S. Army Center of Military History brochure, 3 October 2003, accessed 11 March 2020, The 37th reached the heavily fortified Paco Railroad Station and eventually broke the enemy at this strong point but suffered heavy casualties. (Tyler Webb, The Battling Buckeyes of the 37th Infantry Division, Research Thesis, The Ohio State University, March 2018, accessed 14 April 2020,

During the Luzon Campaign, which included the assault on Manila, Wray McQuay was killed in action. No account was found that places him in a specific battle on the day of his death (February 11, 1945), and so the circumstances are not known. Various sources describing the Luzon Campaign note fighting in southern Manila and in the Dampalit sector of that city on February 9, and it appears that this action fiercely continued for some time forward. The city was cleared on March 3, which substantially ended a month of fighting in the streets of Manila. (Facebook page for the 37th Infantry in WWII, accessed 11 March 2020, carries a day-by-day timeline, Similarly, the brochure "Luzon: 1944-1945" describes milestones by the day, noting that Nichols Field, an air base, fell on February 11.

Pfc. McQuay was listed among 649 Washington County [Pennsylvania] dead in the grim lists of those killed in action section of the June 27, 1946, edition of the Daily Notes, a Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, newspaper. He is listed in the Military Honor Roll in the March 24, 1945, edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Wray McQuay was interred in Bluemont Cemetery in Grafton, West Virginia, where a headstone and stone marking the family plot were found. This information was also found on a Pennsylvania "Record of Burial Place of Veteran" card, indicating his burial in Grafton.
Headstone for Pfc. Wray McQuay in Bluemont Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Headstone for Pfc. Wray McQuay in Bluemont Cemetery. Courtesy Cynthia Mullens

Article prepared by Cynthia Mullens
March 2020


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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