Admiral Charles W. Ray, former Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, has joined the Association for Rescue at Sea, taking command as the maritime non-profit’s Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Admiral Ray, a native of Newport, Ark., graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1981. After an assignment as a deck watch officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet, he was selected for Naval Flight Training and earned his wings in 1984.

Adm. Charles Ray speaks during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2018. During the event Ray became the 31st vice commandant of the Coast Guard. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Kelley.

Ray, who retired as the 31st Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard in 2021 after 40 years of service, previously served as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, Pacific Area Commander, Deputy Pacific Area Commander, Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, with U.S. Forces Iraq and as Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security. 

He also held the title of Ancient Albatross, an honor given to the longest serving Coast Guard Aviator. During his career, Ray served at six Coast Guard air stations from Alaska to the Caribbean while accumulating more than 5,000 hours of helicopter flight time.

“This is an exciting time for AFRAS,” said Joseph Re, the association’s President. “Admiral Ray shares our deep commitment to the mission of AFRAS and will bring his passion and energy to help mature and strengthen our organization. Having worked closely with Admiral Ray previously, I know his experience and vision will enable us to make an even greater impact in our support to volunteer maritime rescue organizations around the world.”

AFRAS helps protect mariners from the perils of the sea by providing monetary and in-kind donations to world volunteer maritime search and rescue organizations. The charity also recognizes and honors extraordinary maritime rescues through its awards program and annual ceremony. AFRAS is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity. Visit AFRAS online to learn more about the organization, or to make a charitable donation.

Adm. Charles Ray underway with a Coast Guard boat crew in Houston, Texas, Nov. 14, 2019. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Johanna Strickland.