Capt. David Ramsay Was an Elite Fighter Pilot in the Air Force: Only the 47th African American to Graduate from West Point in 1964

Ramsay Park might be better known for its basketball courts and recently-renovated playground areas in the South End, but the namesake of the park is a man whose shadow looms large on a day like Memorial Day.

Capt. David Ramsay fought and died in Vietnam, being killed in action and celebrated as a fallen hero on this special holiday.

However, his accomplishments were much more than just having a large park in the South End bear his name. He paved the way for others and was a tremendous athlete and celebrated pilot – a graduate of West Point Military Academy – in a time when not many African American men did not achieve such successes.

Ramsay actually grew up right where the park sits today, on Sterling Street – which is approximately where Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington Street lie today. He attended the Asa Gray Elementary School and Sherwin Middle School in Roxbury – graduating from The English High School in June 1956.

He quickly enlisted in the US Air Force in 1956 and was honorably discharged in 1960, switching military branches to attend the prestigious West Point Military Academy. He graduated there in 1964 with full honors and with the rank of captain. He was only the 47th African American to ever graduate from West Point.

His pioneering career included being one of the first African Americans to be appointed to fly with the elite USAF Thunderbirds.

It was as a jet fighter pilot where Ramsay served in Vietnam.

He was killed in action in the Republic of Vietnam on Aug. 17, 1970 – exactly 50 years ago this coming August.

Capt. Ramsay’s Awards and Decorations include: Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross, two Meritorious Service Awards, Bronze Star, Viet Nam Campaign Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, two Air Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Silver Star, and Viet Nam Service Medal.

Ramsay Park was dedicated in his honor Nov. 20, 1999

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