Army will let Special Forces Colonel accused of domestic violence quietly retire at his current rank

Colonel Owen Ray
Photo credit Photo courtesy of PACOM/Photo By: Joe Lacdan

Months after he was charged in a domestic violence incident, the U.S. Army is allowing former 1st Special Forces Group commander Colonel Owen Ray to quietly retire with no reduction in rank.

Connecting Vets first reported Colonel Ray's domestic violence arrest in December.

An Army incident report painted the picture of a drunken Ray brandishing a pistol and shotgun during an early morning stand-off with police at his home just a few days after Christmas in 2020.

His wife was able to escape the home with two of their children, but a teenage daughter was trapped inside with Ray as he held a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself.

"Bitch, I'm going to kill you!" Ray yelled to his wife outside the Army document states, as he barricaded the home and prepared for a gunfight with the police who responded to the scene. Two hours later he finally surrendered to police. Ray was charged with multiple counts of felony assault and harassment as well as kidnapping and reckless endangerment.

Two hours later, he finally surrendered to police. Ray was charged with multiple counts of felony assault and harassment as well as kidnapping and reckless endangerment.

Ray's wife told police at the scene that he would frequently beat her, especially when he had been drinking. She displayed injuries to her face and neck from where she said Ray stomped on her.

At the time, Ray was serving as the chief of staff for I Corps commander Lt. Gen. Randy George, having previously served at all levels of command in Special Forces where teammates and fellow officers had reported him to the Inspector General for bullying and berating them, but those complaints were blown off documents and reporting from the Army Times show.

A U.S. Army Human Resources Command memo obtained by Connecting Vets and dated July 2, 2021, states that a review board convened by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Michael I. Mahoney has determined that Col. Ray will be permitted to retire this September without any reduction in his rank or pay grade.

"If he was a E-4 he would be busted down to a E-nothing and be sitting in Leavenworth," says whistleblower and advocate for victims of military trauma Amy Franck. "This type of cover-up is a clear message to victims to not report because the military will protect your offender because their rank is worth more than the violence done against you."

According to Franck, the Department of Defense often attempts to claim that they let high-ranking officers accused of crimes quietly retire with the excuse that they do it so the officer's family members can receive his military pension and benefits.

But, "that's bullshit. It's called Transitional Assistance. They can give them all of his money when he goes to jail," she explained.

Connecting Vets asked Army Public Affairs if to comment on why Ray is being retired with no reduction in rank, and why service members should believe that the Army takes domestic violence seriously considering that Ray faced no repercussions from the military for his actions. Army Public Affairs did not provide a comment prior to publication.

Connecting Vets also reached out to Ray's lawyer for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Col. Ray's wife makes it clear that she still considers her husband a threat to her and her family in a recent court filing. After being released on a $100,000 bond, Ray was restricted to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a civilian residence while he awaits his court dates.

Ray's wife obtained a military order of protection against him which mandates that Ray cannot enter the town where she lives with her children. In the court filing in July, she requests that this protection order be extended after Ray is able to retire in September as a full bird Colonel. As of this writing, Special Forces Command has not revoked Ray's Special Forces tab.

"Allowing him to retire at his current grade is a clear message to victims that they don't care, that his rank is more important than you. He should be held accountable," Franck, who is the founder of the Never Alone advocacy group explained.

"He did not serve honorably," she said.

After his retirement, Ray will still face criminal charges in civilian court in Washington State. His trial is scheduled for September 15th.

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Reach Jack Murphy: or @JackMurphyRGR.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of PACOM/Photo By: Joe Lacdan