Alfred M. Gray Jr.

Alfred Gray
General Al Gray

Alfred M. Gray Jr.

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Alfred M. Gray Jr.

Alfred Gray, official military photo color.JPEG

Nickname(s)"Big Al The Tanker's Pal"[citation needed]

BornJune 22, 1928 (age 89)
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, U.S.

Allegiance United States of America

Service/branch United States Marine Corps

Years of service1950–1991

RankUS-O10 insignia.svg General

Commands held1st Radio Battalion
1st Battalion 2nd Marines
2nd Marine Regiment
4th Marine Regiment
33d Marine Amphibious Unit
2nd Marine Division
II Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Forces Atlantic
Commandant of the Marine Corps

Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War

AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Purple Heart

Alfred M. Gray Jr. (born June 22, 1928) is a retired United States Marine Corps general who served as the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1987–91. He retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991 after 41 years of service.




Early life and education

Gray was born on June 22, 1928 in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, where he was raised. He is the son of Emily and Alfred Mason Gray.[1]

He studied at Lafayette College, and received a Bachelor of Science degree from State University of New York. He has honorary degrees from Lafayette College, Monmouth University, Norwich University, the National Defense Intelligence College, and Franklin University.[2]

He married the former Jan Goss of Burlington, Vermont on July 20, 1980.[1][3]


Gray enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1950. He served overseas with Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific, attaining the rank of sergeant before being commissioned a second lieutenant in April 1952. By definition, serving in the enlisted ranks prior to becoming an officer makes Gray a "mustang," which generally commands more respect in the Corps because of the combination of officer smarts and enlisted practicality. His early tours included service with 11th Marines and 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in Korea, the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., during which he saw service in Guantanamo Bay and Vietnam.[4]

As a Major, Gray joined the 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam in October 1965, serving concurrently as regimental communications officer, regimental training officer, and artillery aerial observer. He took command of the Composite Artillery Battalion and U.S. Free World Forces at Gio Linh in April 1967. In September 1967, Gray was reassigned to the III Marine Amphibious Force in Da Nang where he commanded the 1st Radio Battalion elements throughout I Corps until February 1968. Following a brief tour in the United States, he returned to Vietnam from June to September 1969 in conjunction with surveillance and reconnaissance matters in the I Corps area.

After his Vietnam War tour, Gray served as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Battalion Landing Team 1/2; the 2nd Marine Regiment; the 4th Marine Regiment; and Camp Commander of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. While commanding the 33rd Marine Amphibious Unit and Regimental Landing Team-4, and concurrently serving as Deputy Commander, 9th Marines Amphibious Brigade, Gray directed the Southeast Asia evacuation operations in 1975.

Advanced to brigadier general in March 1976, General Gray served as Commanding General, Landing Force Training Command, Atlantic, and the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade. Promoted to major general in February 1980, he assumed command of the 2nd Marine Division, FMF, Atlantic, Camp Lejueune, N.C., in June 1981. Following his promotion to lieutenant general on August 29, 1984, he was reassigned as Commanding General, FMF, Atlantic/Commanding General, II MEF, and Commanding General, FMF, Europe.

General Gray was promoted to general and became Commandant of the Marine Corps on July 1, 1987. His appointment as Commandant of the Marine Corps was recommended by Jim Webb, then Secretary of the Navy.[5]

Gray presided over changes in training in the 1970s with an emphasis on large-scale maneuver in desert and cold-weather environments, and changed Marine doctrine to one of maneuver warfare in the 1980s. This transformation from the Vietnam era is sometimes called the second enlightenment of the Marine Corps (the first being under MajGen John A. Lejeune), and included development of a robust maritime special operations capability, emphasis on the education of leaders, establishment of Marine Corps University, and development of a long-range desert operations capability. As a reminder that the primary role of every Marine is a rifleman, he had his official photograph taken in the Camouflage Utility Uniform, the only Commandant to have done so.

In popular culture

Gray appeared as himself on the Birthday Ball episode of Major Dad, a second season episode that celebrated the 215th birthday of the Marine Corps. Appearing on 60 Minutes in the 1980s, he addressed the graduating class at the Naval Academy. He summarized the core of leadership—civilian or military, "If you come and join my Marines, I want you to know that your 'number one' job is to take care of the men and women you are privileged to lead."


The Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia is the home of the Alfred M. Gray Research Center. The center houses the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections, the Quantico Base Library, and the research library for the Marine Corps University, as well a conference center. Gray routinely stops by to donate his recently read books.[citation needed]

Since 2004, as part of the Marine Corps Communications Awards Program, The General Alfred M. Gray Trophy is presented annually in honor of the 29th Commandant. The award bears his name due to his contributions to modernization in intelligence and communications. The Marine Corps University Foundation retains overall responsibility for funding the Trophy, and receives a grant from Sprint. A Marine Captain on active duty serving in the military occupational specialty (MOS) 0602 Communications Information Systems Officer within the operating forces or supporting establishment is recognized with the trophy each year at an awards ceremony.[6]

Awards and decorations

Bronze oak leaf cluster

Gold star

Silver Star ribbon.svg"V" device, gold.svg1 golden star.svg"V" device, gold.svg 1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg

Gold star

Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svgJoint Service Commendation Medal ribbon.svgNavy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon.svg

Gold star

Bronze star


Bronze star


Bronze star

Bronze star

Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg

Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 bronze oak leaf clusterNavy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 gold award starArmy Distinguished Service MedalAir Force Distinguished Service Medal

Coast Guard Distinguished Service MedalSilver StarLegion of Merit w/ valor device & 1 award starBronze Star w/ valor device & 3 award stars

Purple Heart w/ 1 award starMeritorious Service MedalJoint Service Commendation MedalNavy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Combat Action Ribbon w/ 1 award starPresidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service starNavy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service starsMeritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star

Marine Corps Good Conduct MedalNational Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service starsKorea Service Medal w/ 1 service starArmed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1 service starSea Service Deployment RibbonRepublic of Korea Presidential Unit CitationVietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation

Vietnam Civil Actions unit citationUnited Nations Service Medal for KoreaVietnam Campaign MedalRepublic of Korea War Service Medal

Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

In 1991, he was awarded the Distinguished Sea Service Award by the Naval Order of the United States.

Post–Marine Corps career

Alfred M. Gray (right) and James F. Amos (left) in June 2012.

Gray serves on the Board of Directors or Board of Advisors of a number of companies, including:[2]


See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. "General Alfred M. Gray, (Retired USMC)". American Public University System. 2007-05-08. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-26.

Further reading

External links

Name Alias
General Al Gray