FLORENCE — A former U.S. Marine received a new headstone at Florence National Cemetery recently to commemorate his service during World War II before his death in Iwo Jima, Japan, in March 1945.
Corporal Harold Ray Boykin left Camden in 1942 at age 20 and was killed in action in the Volcano Islands and transported back to South Carolina after his death.
At that point, his family was told they would receive his belongings, medals and other
citations, but according to niece Lynne Boykin, that never happened.
The former headstone only noted his name, the conflict in which he served, and his birth and death.
“We are here today to pay special tribute for this recognition and also to all the veterans who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom past and present,” Lynne said. “We salute you.”
Marines with the Pee Dee area Veterans Honor Guard helped present a new headstone for Ray, engraved with his accomplishments during the war.
Bill Boykin, Ray’s brother, said he was 8 or 9 years old when Ray left for the war.
“We carried him to Sumter, he left,” Boykin said. “He got eight weeks training, and they sent him to Camp Pendleton in California. Gave him one day off, then they sent him overseas.”
That was the last time Bill saw his brother Ray, whom he has often thought of as a mentor.
“I think it’s great,” Bill said. “I didn’t expect this. I’d like for him to see it.”
Jack Richard Boykin, Ray’s nephew, attended the ceremony despite having never met his uncle.
“(Family) always talked about Uncle Ray being in Iwo Jima and dying, and we never got to hear much about him other than stories,” Boykin said.
Jack served as a specialist in the Army National Guard and spent one year abroad during Operation Desert Storm.
“It gives you a sense of honor knowing that your family served,” Jack said. “We’ve had family in just about every conflict.”
Ray received a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal and a Silver Star for his service to the U.S. Marine Corps, among other awards.
A letter written to Ray’s parents after his death on behalf of the president presented him the Bronze Star Medal for his “action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima. Corporal Boykin repeatedly led his men in courageous assaults against the enemy.