WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Jeff Denham submitted the following statement for the Congressional Record this morning in honor of the fallen Naval Petty Officer Third Class James Ray Layton from Riverbank, who died Sept. 8, 2009, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
USMC Cpl. Dakota Meyer who risked his life to save Officer Layton and many others, will be presented the Medal of Honor today for his heroic actions in Afghanistan. Dakota will be the first living Marine recipient of the nation’s highest award for valor since the now-retired Sgt. Maj. Allan Kellogg received the medal for actions 41 years ago in Vietnam. The full text of Rep. Denham’s statement is below.
At the request of Cpl. Dakota Meyer, today in Escalon, the Office of Rep. Denham will hold a ceremony to coincide with the Medal of Honor presentation in Washington D.C. today:
Mr. Speaker: I rise today to acknowledge and honor fallen Riverbank Naval Petty Officer Third Class James Ray Layton.
HM3 James Ray Layton was born in Livermore, California on January 29, 1987 and died September 8, 2009 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. Artist, healer and music lover James Ray Layton brought joy and love into the lives of his family, friends and Comrades in Arms.
At the time of his death Layton was assigned to Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, which is responsible for training and equipping Afghan security forces. Lt. Cmdr. John Daniels, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said Layton deployed to Afghanistan with an element of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Division. Layton enlisted Dec. 20, 2007.
Layton’s death was described by McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Jonathan Landay, who was embedded with a group of Marines and pinned down by heavy fire in a rugged section of Kunar Province on Tuesday. “The Marines were cut down as they sought cover in a trench at the base of the village’s first layer cake-style stone house. Much of their ammunition was gone. One Marine (later determined to be Layton) was bending over a second, tending his wounds, when both were killed, said Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Ky., who retrieved their bodies.”
Layton is the 28th soldier or Marine from the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the first from Riverbank.
He is survived by his father Brent Layton, mother Nikki Freitas, step-father Gilbert Freitas, brothers Jonathon, Jesse, Brandon and Sage, and sister Jordan, grandmothers Kathy Anderson and Shirley Hughes, grandfather Winn Layton, stepsister Andrea Freitas, stepbrother Jason Freitas, and loving aunts, uncles and cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his Papa, Ray Hughes.