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“He was a brave man. I always say he was the closest thing to a hero that I’ve ever known,” she said, just after she collected additional “rubbings” — stenciled copies of Ray’s name as it appears on the wall — to give to her late husband’s two surviving children.

In all, the couple raised five children, including a son they had together along with two children from her husband’s earlier marriage and two from hers.

Given the severity of his injuries, many didn’t expect Ray Thompson to survive, much less raise five children.

After a horrific rocket attack as he took a late-night shower, a surgeon filled out a death certificate for the 21-year-old, assuming he wouldn’t make it.

But Spc. Thompson pulled through, despite devastating injuries that caused him to lose 10 feet of intestines and about one-third of his stomach.

As amazing as his recovery was, the next few chapters in the wounded veteran’s life were equally impressive. After graduating from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in fine arts, he returned to college and took medical classes.

He then cared for fellow veterans at a hospital in Riviera Beach. Later, he went to work at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.

Having seen the horrors of war, Mrs. Thompson said, her husband had a longing in his heart to help in whatever way he could.

“That’s what he wanted to do. His fellow veterans, he called them all his brothers,” she said. “He really had an incredible spirit.