In the words of George C. Marshall, Raymond S. McLain "gave great distinction to the term 'citizen soldier'". His service to his state and nation spanned more than forty years.
McLain was born in Washington County, Kentucky. He began his military service with the Oklahoma National Guard in 1912, later serving on the Mexican border and in Europe during World War I. In 1938, while pursuing a career in business, McLain attended the Special Command and General Staff Class for Guard and Reserve officers.
During World War II, he commanded the 45th Infantry Division Artillery in Sicily, where he earned the first of two Distinguished Service Crosses. At Normandy in 1944, McLain took command of the troubled 90th Infantry Division, transformed it into a first-class fighting formation, and led it across France. He then assumed command of the XIX Corps, becoming the only guardsman to command a corps in combat.
For his distinguished service, he was appointed a Regular Army brigadier general, the first guardsman so honored. Later, he became the first Comptroller of the Army. At the time of his death in 1954 he was serving on President Dwight Eisenhower's National Security Training Commission. He died at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D. C. on December 14, 1954.