Raymond Lee Armentrout
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Raymond Lee Armentrout was born on October 18, 1950, in Elkins, Randolph County, West Virginia, and resided in Weston, Lewis County. His parents were Hansel Lee and Paige Therese DiBacco Armentrout. His decision to enlist in the military continued a family tradition; Hansel had served in the Army during World War II, also rising to staff sergeant, and earned a Philippine Liberation Ribbon and Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon. Born in 1913, Hansel died on November 4, 1956, leaving Paige with two sons to raise on her own. Paige DiBacco was born in Tucker County about 1917 to a large family whose parents were Italian immigrants; the 1940 U.S. Federal Census indicates she nevertheless achieved a college education. Paige DiBacco Armentrout was a Lewis County High School music supervisor, as indicated in a death notice for Raymond in the Weston Democrat ("Sgt. Raymond Armentrout Shot Down, Killed in Laos," 3 Mar. 1971: 1.) According to a 2012 West Virginia legislative resolution that named a bridge in his honor, he had a brother, Timothy (Tim). Military records show that Raymond was of the Catholic faith.
After graduating from Saint Patrick’s High School in Weston, Lewis County, in 1968, Raymond attended West Virginia University, where he was an ROTC cadet. After one semester at West Virginia University, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He was assigned to D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division (Mech), USARV, and was a member of a helicopter crew. He enlisted on March 1, 1969, and was sent to Vietnam on July 6, 1970.
2012 House Concurrent Resolution No. 19 states: "Raymond Armentrout was a crew chief and gunner on an OH-58A helicopter scout ship whose dangerous mission was to fly low to the ground in search of North Vietnamese troops while larger Cobra gun ships at high altitude would wait to engage additional support after the scout helicopter had drawn enemy fire." It continues: "Raymond Armentrout was killed in action on February 23, 1971, while his unit was providing air support to a South Vietnamese invasion into Laos to cut off North Vietnamese troops as they infiltrated south on the Ho Chi Minh Trail."
S/Sgt. Armentrout was awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and nine Oak Leaf Clusters. His promotion to staff sergeant was posthumous.
Raymond Lee Armentrout's remains were recovered and laid to rest in the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Thomas, Tucker County, West Virginia. His name also appears on Panel 5W, Line 131, of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In 2012 the West Virginia House of Delegates, in Concurrent Resolution No. 19 sponsored by Delegate Smith, named the north- and south-bound bridges on Interstate 79 (21-79-98.57) near Weston, Lewis County, the "Staff Sergeant Raymond Armentrout Memorial Bridge."
Biography contributed by Leon Armentrout, with assistance from Patricia Richards McClure.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.
Veterans Memorial Database
West Virginia Veterans Memorial
West Virginia Archives and History