Rayford Latham was born on 5 September 1924 in Scottsboro, Alabama. He was inducted into the US Army on 28 January 1944 and trained as an infrantryman. PFC Latham arrived in the European Theater of Operation in July 1944 and was assigned to the Company G, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, then fighting in southern France. By January 1945, now Staff Sergeant Latham and his regiment were in heavy combat with German forces near Saegmuhl, France. On 1 Febraury, SSG Latham was ordered to organize a squad strongpoint to deny the enemy an approach to his company's positions. When the enemy had come within close range, SSG Latham opened fire with a .30-caliber machinegun, firing so effectively that many of the enemy were killed or wounded and the remainder forced to withdraw. To meet an attempted infiltration from another direction, SSG Latham quickly shifted his men and, in spite of the intense small arms fire directed at his position, began to work his way through the sector, encouraging his squad and controlling its fire. At the same time, SSG Latham adjusted mortar and artillery concentrations on the attacking force, moving the fire close to his own position where necessary to repel an enemy threat. SSG Rayford Latham's gallantry in action earned him the nation's third-highest military combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Armed Forces, the Silver Star. In April 1945, SSG Latham was severely wounded and evacuated back to the United States. After treatment at Lawson General Hospital in Georgia, SSG Latham was separated from the service in November 1945.