Al Gray, beloved former Marine Corps commandant, dies at age 95

by Tommy Grant

Gen. Al Gray, the 29th commandant of the Marine Corps, died Wednesday in his home following an extended period of hospice care.

The 95-year-old New Jersey native rose from private to four-star general, leading the Corps during the fall of the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf War.

Retired Lt. Gen. George Flynn, who serves as his power of attorney, confirmed that Gray died at 12:57 a.m. from health complications in his Alexandria, Virginia, home where he had been under hospice care.

Gray served as commandant from 1987 to 1991, retiring after 41 years of military service. During his tenure and in retirement he was widely beloved by Marines both in and out of uniform.

The former commandant remained closely tied to Marine initiatives, programs and organizations such as the Marine Corps Association and Foundation, the Semper Fi Fund, the Potomac Institute and various Marine unit functions and events.

Gray enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 and commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1952, according to his official biography. His early tours were with 11th and 7th Marine Regiments, 1st Marine Division in Korea.

He later saw service in Vietnam where his actions on May 14, 1967, resulted in his being awarded the Silver Star Medal.

Gray was serving as the commanding officer of the Composite Artillery Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, according to his Silver Star citation. That night three Marines on their way to a listening post entered a heavily mined area by mistake.

One of the Marines was killed when he detonated a mine, which also injured his fellow Marines.

Maj. Gray and another Marine rushed to the mined area and cleared a 40-meter path through the unmarked field. Gray guided stretcher-bearers in as he moved one of the injured Marines and began rendering first aid.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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