by Kate Shunney
An effort underway in Paw Paw to add a headstone to the grave of Ray William Stotler is more than half way toward the goal of raising money needed for the memorial marker.
Community member and Vietnam veteran Luther “Jock” Shambaugh has organized the fund. The target is to raise $3,500 to add a headstone to Stotler’s grave at Woodrow Church Cemetery outside of Paw Paw.
Shambaugh said he knew Stotler’s grave didn’t have a headstone and had tried in previous years to get one through the Veterans Administration without success. The idea came back up after a member of the Paw Paw Class of ’66 had difficulty finding Stotler’s grave. His grave had also gotten overlooked when American Legion members placed flags at Woodrow’s cemetery.
Paw Paw Mayor Darlene Abe asked Shambaugh what they were going to do about it, resulting in the fundraiser.
“PFC Stotler is buried at Woodrow Church Cemetery but does not have a headstone. This was a great concern of the members of the Paw Paw community and is long overdue,” says a GoFundMe page for the project.
“Ray was well-liked and well-known,” said Shambaugh. He said the young man was an avid rabbit hunter and outdoorsman.
Ray Stotler was born in Berkeley Springs October 7, 1947, the son of Stanley and Naomi Powell Stotler. Ray had two sisters, Betty and Joanne, and three brothers, Robert, Ronnie, and Vernon and graduated from Paw Paw High School in 1965. He was a baseball player in school. After graduation, he worked for Raygold Industries in Paw Paw and in construction for a Virginia company.
Stotler was drafted into the U.S. Army in October 1966. received his initial training at Fort Jackson, S.C. He had been recognized as a leader in his squad and received a sharpshooter medal and certification in other firearms.
According to military records, he served with the 2nd Platoon, Company C, Second Battalion, Fifth Regiment of the First Calvary Division. On August 2, 1967, Stotler was killed in action while on patrol duty in Binh Dinh. News reports at the time said all six members of Stotler’s patrol were killed by sniper fire in the incident. He had been in country since early May and had previously been on helicopter duty, removing American wounded and casualties from battle areas.
In 2003, a new bridge on Winchester Street over the CSX Railroad in Paw Paw as named the “PFC Ray W. Stotler Memorial Bridge” in the local man’s honor. The Risinger-Stotler VFW post in Berkeley Springs is named partially for him as well.
Those involved in the fundraiser say it’s fitting that a headstone be placed to make his grave easier to find, and to honor “his courage and sacrifice.”
The GoFundMe page for the headstone can be found by searching for PFC Ray W. Stotler.
A bank account for the fundraiser has also been set up at the Bank of Romney in Paw Paw for the headstone project. Checks can be mailed to Bank of Romney, P.O. Box 114, Paw Paw, W.Va. 25434 with a notation that it’s for the Ray Stotler headstone fund