In continuing to honor individuals who served in the United States armed forces, Northwestern State University recognized Senior Chief Petty Officer Ray Ponthieux during the Feb. 4 double header basketball game. Ponthieux served in the U.S. Navy from 1956 until his retirement in 1975.
Ponthieux served with I Corps in the Northern Providences of South Vietnam, as the psychological operations advisor to Vietnamese and U.S. Navy forces conducting operations on rivers of South Vietnam. As part of the Naval Advisor Group, he performed waterborne and aerial broadcasting and leaflet drops to encourage enemy defectors.
Among his other assignments, he was assigned to the Joint Command and Operations Center, Izmir, Turkey, and for three years, was the only Navy enlisted person at this large NATO command. He also served three years as the administrative assistant for the Naval ROTC Unit at Oregon State University. From there, he took an early rotation to establish the NROTC Student Personnel Office at the Naval Training and Education Command in Pensacola, Florida.
Ponthieux’s military education includes one year of Vietnamese language instruction at Defense Language Institute, Washington, D.C. He also completed the U.S. Army Psychological Operations School at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare and School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is a graduate of the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School at Little Creek, Virginia.
His military honors include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and various medals from the South Vietnamese government including the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star.
After retirement from the Navy, for 22 years, Ponthieux worked as a claims representative at the Natchitoches Social Security Office. He also enrolled and graduated from Northwestern State University in 2011 at the age of 72.
Ponthieux devotes much of his free time to volunteering in the community. He is the manager of Natchitoches Knights of Columbus weekly bingo which supports various charities. He is an usher at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Natchitoches and serves on the team that prepares bank deposits for the church’s weekly donations. Many also know Ponthieux as a member of three-person team that provides statistics at all St. Mary’s School football games. He also holds membership with the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Ponthieux is married to Gwen Ponthieux, who is retired after 42 years of civilian service for the US Army at Fort Polk.
To nominate a Veteran for recognition at an upcoming NSU event, please contact Sid Hall, NSU’s Military Affairs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 357-6951.