Dr. FOREST EARL KAY JR
May 9, 1940 – February 9, 2007
“Butch” was born as Forest Earl Kunath Jr. on May 9th, 1940 in Iowa to Forest Earl Kunath (1918-1969) and Virginia June Grunsted Kunath (1918-2004). In the 1940s and 50s, having an “ethnic” name was not felt to be as acceptable as it was in later years. People changed their names, most of the times informally, for a multitude of reasons. Although he was named after his father, and as late as his enlistment in the US Marine Corp in 1958 he used his given name, he changed it to the name we Rangers knew him as when he enlisted in the Army. The name Kunath became Kay and forever after, he was known as Forest Earl Kay Jr. although there never was a Forest Earl Kay Sr. Only a former Marine, Army Ranger could pull that one off. The military was truly in his blood. “Butch’s” father, a Reserve Naval Officer was called to active duty in Feb of 1944 during WWII, serving as a Lt (JG) on the LST697 until it was de-commissioned in 1946.
Not to be outdone by “the old man”, Butch joined the US Marine Corp when he turned 18 and two days after the 4th of July in 1958 he found himself on Paris Island as an E-1. He left the service upon the end of his enlistment only to be summoned by the echo’s of war in the jungles of Vietnam. This time around, he decided to enter the first-class outfit of Army Rangers. On March 2, 1967 he joined the Army and soon found himself in the Central Highlands of Vietnam amongst the best warriors America had to defend it. With his prior service, he soon found himself a SSG E-6 leading a team of Rangers – and lead it he did. Butch was a man people counted on to do the job well. His unusual background must have been a great plus because all who patrolled on his team were better for the experience. It was clear to everyone even then that this was a special man, of unusual intelligence and drive. Butch ended up making a career out of the service. He attended military and civilian schools to advance in both rank and respect.
He found the time to marry Vilma Nalasco Kay (B 1943) they bore a son, Sean Forest Kay born Jan 10, 1988 in Anniston, Alabama and two other children as well. He was blessed to see his family grow with three grandchildren before he passed. All survived Butch and lead productive lives with the values learned from a lifetime of service to the country by their father.
Butch ended his career as a Lt. Colonel with a PHD. The warrior we crawled around in the jungle with became someone we called Doctor Butch. We were very proud of him then and we continue to be proud of our association with him now. Rest in peace Doctor Butch.
Butch died unexpectedly, at home, in Fayetteville, NC. He was buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas, TX Column B, Row CT2 Site B89
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!