- "It's like a candy store in here. Go ahead, go ahead. I had to teach you how to hold a gun, do you remember? Eighteen, and you'd never held a piece before. Come on! They call you the Punisher. Prove it!"
- ―Ray Schoonover to Frank Castle
Colonel Ray Schoonover was both a member of the United States Marine Corps Force Recon division, and secretly a powerful drug lord called the Blacksmith who used the profits from selling heroin to fund the Cerberus Squad under William Rawlins' supervision. When Schoonover and Cerberus's actions were under risk of being uncovered by Frank Castle, Schoonover and Rawlins authorized the massacre of Castle's entire family. When Castle learned of this, he finally executed Schoonover before stealing his guns.
Service in the Middle East
- "Within the first hour the officer in charge of that mission got his arm blown off, so Lieutenant Castle assumed command. His only goal was to get his men out alive."
- ―Ray Schoonover
During the War on Terror, Schoonover served in the United States Marine Corps and was made the Commanding Officer of an eighteen year old Frank Castle, teaching him how to fire a weapon and training him for several years until he came to deeply respect Castle for his determination and loyalty in the battlefield, believing him to be one of the finest soldiers he had ever encountered. Sometime later, one of Schoonover's most loyal Marines, Gosnell, was nearly killed by an explosion, damaging much of his own face, however Gosnell still remained loyal to Schoonover in spite of the injury.
Major Schoonover joined forces with William Rawlins of the CIA and together they had founded Operation Cerberus with the aim of illegally assassinating high value targets to speed an end to the war. With the aid of both Morty Bennett and Billy Russo, Schoonover had begun funding Cerberus by selling and transporting high quality heroin from Afghanistan which they would transport in the corpses of those killed in action, as Schoonover became a drug lord, taking on the name of Blacksmith.
With everything in place, Schoonover and Rawlins gathered together soldiers from different branches of the United States Armed Forces to create Cerberus Squad, with Russo also joining the new Squad. Schoonover stood by as Rawlins gave a speech, explaining their mission as the men listened closely, with Frank Castle questioning if the United States Congress had approved of their missions which Rawlins claimed they had. Once Rawlins had finished with his own speech, Major Schoonover then introduced Castle and Russo as the Squad's team leaders before finally ending the meeting.
- "This terrain means we won't be able to land near the compound without alerting the enemy, so we're gonna land here, north of this ridge. Move in on foot. Once both teams are in position, we'll hit the compound."
"No air support?"
- ―Ray Schoonover and Billy Russo
With Operation Cerberus still going underway, Major Schoonover's men were able to kill the high value targets with precision. However when Ahmad Zubair of the Afghan National Police had discovered Schoonover stuffing a corpse with his heroin, Schoonover had their men capture and murder Zubair, keeping the reasons for Zubair's death secret. Once intel had finally come in of another target's current location, Schoonover called Frank Castle and Billy Russo for a meeting.
During the meeting, Schoonover explained that their target had been located in Kandahar and due to the terrain, they would attack on foot without any other air support in order to not alert the enemy. Castle however expressed his doubts about their mission, claiming that it was likely a trap as their target had now made their whereabouts well known in a highly dangerous position. William Rawlins ignored all of the warnings and, despite Russo backing Castle up, Schoonover chose to side with Rawlins and ordered them to get Cerberus Squad ready for actions, despite all of Castle's continued warnings.
As Castle predicated, the mission turned out to be an ambush, which had lead to multiple members of Cerberus Squad being killed. During the attack which continued getting worse, Schoonover lost one of his hands due to a mortar, after which Frank Castle took over command, checking on Schoonover's condition during all of the chaos. Single-handedly, Castle managed to clear their helicopter's landing zone of enemy fighters. Eventually Schoonover and most of his servicemen returned to the United States of America, but not before Schoonover was promoted in rank to Colonel despite the failure of the mission.
Life as the Blacksmith
- "I never met him; he never showed his face. All I know is he had a line of pure heroin, shit shipped from the Middle East. They call him the Blacksmith."
Schoonover, as the drug lord known as the Blacksmith, plotted to take over the entire drug trade within New York City, developing a rivalry with Madame Gao's own heroin trade. Using his position, Schoonover arranged for his heroin to be smuggled into the country covertly. The D.A.'s office arranged a sting operation to uncover the Blacksmith's identity at a meeting in Central Park between the Kitchen Irish, Mexican Cartel and the Dogs of Hell. Schoonover did not show up to the meeting, resulting in the gangs getting rattled and opening fire on each other. An undercover cop and Frank Castle's family were incidentally killed in the crossfire.
Defending Frank Castle
Schoonover was called as a character witness to Frank Castle's trial after Castle had been accused of murdering dozens of criminals all across New York City in search of the men who were responsible for his family's deaths during the Massacre at Central Park. As he was questioned by one of Castle's own lawyers, Foggy Nelson, Schoonover described how Castle saved their unit's lives during a top secret mission, and how he viewed Castle as a hero who deserved the medal of honor.
With Nelson and Murdock having now finished their questioning in defense of Castle, the lawyer for the prosecution, Samantha Reyes, stepped forward and tried to question Schoonover's story, noting that while he had told a nice story of how Castle had been a hero, he could not prove it really happened. However, Schoonover revealed that Castle had saved his life as well and he was the colonel in his earlier story who had lost his arm and as a result been demoted. Unable to better this defense, Reyes informed Judge Cynthia Batzer that she had no more questions to ask to Colonel Schoonover.
Covering his Tracks
Following Frank Castle's subsequent conviction and escape from Ryker's Island, Schoonover took the opportunity to cover his tracks and frame his former subordinate. He planted Castle's x-ray outline in Samantha Reyes' daughter's schoolbag, making her believe that Castle was targeting her and her family. When Reyes and Blake Tower had a meeting with Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, Schoonover took a sniper position and gunned down Reyes, but Murdock pulled his friends down, saving their lives, though Nelson was injured. This attack gave the impression that Castle was seeking revenge against those who put him in prison. Schoonover then moved onto his new target, Gregory Tepper, killing him in the same way he did Reyes. His third target was Page, but she was saved by Castle, convincing her that Castle was not behind the murders.
Interview with Karen Page
Schoonover was later visited by Karen Page inside his home and he welcomed her in with a smile and offered her a cup of coffee. Page explained that she was there because she now wished to do a profile on the real Frank Castle and she believed that Schoonover was the only person who had any good things to say about Castle. Schoonover told her that he was grateful to her for writing the article to prove Castle was not just a murderer just the media believed.
Page began the interview by asking Schoonover if he liked Castle as a man and Schoonover told her stories of their time together in the United States Marine Corps. Schoonover was told by Page about an explosion at the docks which Castle was involved with and it was believed that he had been killed. However as they were speaking, Page soon realized Schoonover's identity as the Blacksmith when she noticed a picture of Gosnell, who's burnt corpse she had seen at Pier 81 while she was looking for Castle. Realizing he had now been made, Schoonover drew his gun and took Page hostage.
Schoonover led Page outside by gunpoint and ordered her to get into her car and drive away from his house, as they started the car some music began playing loudly which Schoonover ordered her to turn off while keeping the gun aimed at her head. Page tried to reassure Schoonover that nobody would believe her story as she was not a real reporter at the New York Bulletin but Schoonover did not listen, instead he told her she should have let the story go down with the boat and Castle's body before ordering her to pull over on the side of the road so he could execute her and then bury her body.
- "Alright, they call you the Punisher. Prove it; prove you don't need me anymore."
"One shot, one kill. You taught me that."
"You stupid son o-"
- ―Ray Schoonover and Frank Castle
Suddenly Frank Castle drove out of the shadows and drove into the side of the car, injuring Schoonover whose face became covered with blood. Castle ripped Schoonover from the car and dragged him through the woods without saying a word to his former friend. As they walked Schoonover mocked Castle over his family's deaths, insisting they would be alive if he'd joined his organisation and sold all his heroin.
As Castle threw Schoonover to the ground, Karen Page eventually caught up with the pair and tried desperately to convince Castle to let Schoonover go. Seeing no way out for him, Schoonover instead continued mocking Castle, hinting to him that his family's deaths were more to do with Operation Cerberus and Castle's actions while in Kandahar, with Page demanding to know what he was talking about which neither Schoonover or Castle explained. Despite Page still begging Castle to let him go, he instead dragged the wounded Schoonover inside of a nearby cabin in order to kill him.
Once they were alone in the cabin Schoonover watched as Castle began looking at all the various weapons he could use to torture and slowly kill his former commander. Schoonover reminded him that he had taught him everything he knew, even how to hold a firearm. Eventually Schoonover told him to prove that he was the Punisher once and for all. Castle said that Schoonover taught him about one shot, one kill and before Schoonover could reply, he fired a single shot into Schoonover's skull, killing him instantly. With Schoonover dead, Castle found his armory and stole the guns.
To be added
- "You should be at the bottom of the Hudson. Losing a hundred million in heroin would have been worth it to take you down. But here we are. Could have been part of it like Gosnell; you could have been rich, and maybe you could have taken your family to the Bahamas instead of Central Park."
- ―Ray Schoonover to Frank Castle
This section requires expansion
To be added
- Master Tactician: During his time served in Afghanistan, Schoonover partnered with William Rawlins and selected a group of soldiers to conduct Operation Cerberus. When it became evident that someone leaked a video depicting Zubair's assassination, Schoonover tipped three gangs in New York to meet in Central Park in the hopes of killing Frank Castle alongside his family.
- Marksmanship: Schoonover's experience in the military have made him a skilled marksman despite his old age. He notably killed both Samantha Reyes and Gregory Tepper in a similar fashion to the Punisher.
This section requires expansion
- Beretta 92FS: Ray Schoonover pulled a Beretta 92FS he kept at home in order to threaten Karen Page, who had visited him to interview him regarding Frank Castle's whereabouts. Once he realized that Page had correctly figured out he was the Blacksmith, Schoonover threatened her with the gun, ordering her to go to her car and drive.
- Ray Schoonover's Arsenal
|Appearances for Ray Schoonover|
In chronological order:
- In the comics, Ray Schoonover was the commanding officer of Frank Castle in the Vietnam War, who secretly directed an human traffic of cocaine. He tried to kill all the former members of his squad, only to be found by Castle and forced to commit suicide. This plot point is later adapted into the backstory for Season One of The Punisher.