Biography: Ralph Luna was born on October 23, 1923 in Los Angeles California. He was the son of Fernando Luna and Maria Galvan and attended local schools through the 11th grade. His enlistment record identifies his occupation as a skilled welder or flame cutter prior to entering the service.
Service Time: Ralph joined the Army on February 15, 1943 in Los Angeles. At some point he was assigned to the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which received credit for participation in five campaigns, including Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe.
You can see by the photo on the left that Ralph had received the Combat Infantryman's Badge, which is the medal position just over his ribbons on his left pocket. The rifle with wreath, signified that he had participated in combat as an Infantryman. I can only assume that he was assigned to the 705th some time after he had already served in an infantry unit.
The European war was over early in May and the 705th took up occupational duties in Urfahr, Austria. They later moved to Mondsee to continue their work and with the beginning of July, a new Commander was assigned and men were moved to other units or shipped home with their time in the service completed. The 705th was deactivated on the 15th while still in Mondsee, Austria.
Private Ralph Luna's death on July 2, 1945 was the result of demining operations. It was only one day later on the 3rd that the 705th was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation, later to be known as the Presidential Unit Citation. Ralph's body was returned to the U.S. and buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, in his hometown of Los Angeles. I want to thank Ralph's nephew Mark for his assistance, providing photos and information for this article.