Fallen Hero: MSG Billie Ray Fortenberry (Ret)

Tylertown, MS

Funeral Home

Washington Funeral Home

714 2nd Street Tylertown, MS


Friday, January 19, 2024, 5-7 PM,
Washington Funeral Home Inc , 714 2nd Street, Tylertown, MS


Saturday, January 20, 2024, 12-1 PM, First Apostolic Church , 914 Wilson Street, McComb, MS


Saturday, January 20, 2024, 1 PM, First Apostolic Church , 914 Wilson Street, McComb, MS


Military Service Tribute, Honors, and Obituary 

Recognizing and Honoring a Fallen Hero, Who Served Within the Mississippi National Guard. “Fallen, Yet Not Forgotten”

In recognition of our proud American tradition of honorable service which our military men and women have given to their country and our State, we honor a Fallen Hero. Our nation, our state, and the National Guard Association of MS (NGAMS) regard the memorializing of its retired military deceased as an honorable and sacred obligation.

Another great Soldier and Fallen Hero has been released from duty, passed from our ranks on January 11 , 2024, and has moved on to his heavenly home.  MSG  Billie Ray Fortenberry (Ret), age 75, who had served in the MSARNG within Co A, 1/155th Infantry has departed and gone to a better place with our good Lord.  Fortenberry completed tours in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Saudi Arabia. He was the recipient of several awards, including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

It takes a special person to serve within the military for their country, giving up their family time, comfort, and safety for their country, ultimately for all Americans to enjoy their freedoms, safety, and way of life. We now applaud you for your service to our country.  A special message from General Douglas McArthur remains applicable today for our servicemen that have passed: “Old Soldiers never die; they just fade away”.

Rest in Peace Soldier.  We applaud your patriotism, sacrifices, and brave efforts in serving our country and your family for their support of your service. We thank you for your service. Without your efforts and your families’ support, our country would not stand so boldly, shine so bright, and live so free.

You now have earned a rest, so go fly with the Angels, go rest high on that mountain; your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a-shoutin’ Love for the Father and the Son.

Another great Soldier has gone home, “Fallen, Yet Not Forgotten, Soldier for Life”.

Obituary, Visitation, and Service details:  

July 16, 1948 ~ January 11, 2024

Master Sergeant Billie Ray Fortenberry was born in Tylertown, MS to the late Ellis and Margariette Fortenberry on July 16, 1948. He was raised in the Mount Moriah community and was a member of Magee’s Hill from his youth. He attended J.J. Gulledge High School and graduated in 1967. Billie Ray was joined in holy matrimony with Mary Ruth Carr in 1970 and to this union three sons were born: Alonzo, Tavel, and LaBoris. In the mid-90’s, the Fortenberry’s welcomed twin girls into their home and family, Samantha and Sabrina. Billie Ray loved his family and was a proud Paw-Paw to his grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, and great-grandchildren. 

Billie Ray was drafted into the United States Army in January 1968 and served his country for over 30 years. During his time in the military, he completed tours in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Saudi Arabia. He was the recipient of several awards; including: a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was an Agent Orange and an RPG mine detonation survivor and served as APC First Sergeant. Billie Ray retired from the military in 2002, but he was never far from it, serving as the president of the Southwestern Veterans Association Nonprofit for many years.

In addition to Billie Ray’s military service, he has worked as maintenance technician for Haspel’s, Ingalls Shipyard, and Sanderson Farms. He was sheriff’s deputy for Walthall County for nearly a decade. He was also self-employed as a carpenter and grounds keeper for many years. He was an avid fisherman, hunter, and farmer.

Master Sergeant Billie Ray was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 49 years; his parents; and a brother: Burnis Fortenberry. He leaves to cherish his memories three sons: Alonzo (Servia) Fortenberry, Tavel (Denise) Fortenberry both of McComb, MS, and LaBoris (Kywanda) Fortenberry of Houston, TX; two daughters: Samantha Fortenberry of Tylertown, MS and Sabrina Fortenberry of Atlanta, GA; 12 grandchildren: DeCarloe, Malcolm, Raven, Ariel, Monique, Yasmine, Edward, TaQuie, Kayla, KaBreya, Nakhiya, and Lakaiden; four great-grandchildren; one brother: Ananias Fortenberry; two sisters: Elgena Rodgers and Dora Hodges; a special sister-in-law: Evangelist Luila (Charles) Shields; a Godson, Charles Jackson; a close great-nephew: KJ Carr; and a host of nieces, nephews, family, and friends.

There will be two public visitations and a funeral service. The first public visitation will be held from 5-7 pm on Friday, January 19, 2024, at Washington Funeral Home, located at 714 Second Street, Tylertown, MS 39667. The final visitation and funeral service will be held at First Apostolic Church, located at 914 Wilson Street, Mccomb, MS 39648. The visitation will be held from 12-1 pm on Saturday, January 20, 2024 and the funeral service will proceed promptly at 1 pm. Pastor Eric Brister will be officiating and rendering the eulogy, interment will be at Tylertown Cemetery #2.