RAYMOND WILFRED YOVINO
March 19, 1948 – December 29, 1971
Raymond’s father was born in Chile but came to a small fishing village, Ilwaca, on the Peninsula in Washington to pursue a dream. Father Miguel Cristobal Yovino (1919-2000) fell in love and married Grace Martell Yovino (1928-1949) a local girl. Together they had two boys, Ray and his older brother Michael Christobal Yovino (1945-2007). Life was grand on that picturesque location overlooking the magical Pacific Ocean. The dream was within grasp when Ray’s mother died unexpectedly when he was a little more than a year old. Miguel raised his two boys for eight years before marrying Lois Grace Knock Yovino (1924-2014) in 1957. It was time to build a new dream. In addition to running a fishing charter business, they opened “Captain Mike’s Motel” in Ilwaca. Ray grew to love the peaceful nature of the ocean and yet was acutely aware and always prepared for the fury that could result with a change of the weather. The sea could be very unforgiving for the unprepared. It was step-mom’s 2nd marriage also and she brought an additional two sons and three daughters into their combined family.
After graduation from High School, Ray enlisted on April 29, 1966. He went to Infantry AIT, jump school at Ft. Benning, then headed to the Central Highlands of Vietnam to show the NVA and VC the terror a 6’5” Chilean warrior could bring. What better unit to take advantage of his calm demeanor and the courage of one who has braved unconventional elements before.
In the initial stages of the United States presence in Vietnam, the clear lack of real-time intelligence nearly allowed the NVA to overrun Col. Hal Moore’s 1/7th Cav in the Ia Drang, a battle related in the book and movie “We Were Soldiers Once….and Young”. Shortly after that hard-won battle, the Cav was replaced by the 4th Infantry Division with the mission to “Tame the Ia Drang”. One of the first decisions was to determine how best to know the enemy. The solution was to insert 4-man teams of Rangers, then called LRRPs, to surreptitiously live in the jungle amongst the enemy. They would be inserted into the jungle for extended missions and patrol an area of suspected enemy concentration to uncover weaknesses. The first of these units was the 2nd Bde. LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) of the 4th Infantry Division. Ray was to find himself recruited by Lt. Mike Lapolla for the newly formed 2nd Brigade LRRPs running missions out of “The Oasis” in Kontum Province.
Ray was a large man, and had an even larger personality. He was good natured with his friends and took constant “ribbing” about his large size. There were constant mentions of having them find a Chinook to insert any team with Yovino on it, rather than a Huey. All the teasing was fun and done with great respect and admiration. Any LRRP would consider themselves blessed to have him on their team. The combat skills and courage of men like Ray have contributed over the years to foster a reputation of doing an almost impossible job with unwavering success.
Ray was received his honorable discharge on March 12, 1969 receiving his Combat Infantryman’s Badge and numerous other awards and decorations. This paratrooper returned home to begin the rest of his life. Ray decided to use his VA Educational Benefits to attend Portland State University in Portland, OR. He decided he could do most good with a degree in Psychology. Having survived in the jungles of Kontum for a year, he had no problems living in the less desirable section of West Portland that he could manage on his Veteran’s stipend. He lived alone in an apartment that had been broken into on two previous occasions.
Four days after Christmas, on the night of December 29, 1971 our giant-sized warrior was gunned down, murdered on the street in front of his apartment. No killer was ever found nor was law enforcement ever able to determine a motive. His body was found on the sidewalk with several wounds in the head and body. Police said the assailant was seen by a nearby resident. The witness told detectives he heard five quick shots fired in succession and went to a window in time to see one last shot fired into Ray’s body.
Ray was brought home to be buried in Ilwaco Cemetery far from the jungles of Vietnam but surrounded by family, the sound of the ocean and the smell of salt in the air.