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Alfred M. Gray, Jr. was born on 22 June 1928 to Emily and Alfred Mason Gray and was raised in Point Pleasant, NJ. He studied at Lafayette College and received a Bachelor of Science degree from State University of New York.
Marine Corps Service Gray enlisted in the U.S. 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, NC, and Headquarters Marine Corps, , during which he saw service in Guantanamo Bay and Vietnam.
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 U.S., he returned to Vietnam from June to September 1969 in conjunction with surveillance and reconnaissance matters in the I Corps area.
After his Vietnam 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, 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 Lejeune, NC, in June 1981. Following his promotion to Lieutenant General on 29 August 1984, he was reassigned as Commanding General, FMF, Atlantic/Commanding General, II MEF, and Commanding General, FMF, Europe.
Gray was promoted to General and became the twenty-ninth Commandant of the Marine Corps on 1 July 1987. His appointment as Commandant of the Marine Corps was recommended by Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb.
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.
Alfred M. Gray, Jr. retired from the Marine Corps in 1991 after 41 years of service.
Medals and Awards
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 Award Star
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit w/ Valor Device & 1 Award Star
Bronze Star Medal w/ Valor Device & 3 Award Stars
Purple Heart w/ 1 Award Star
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Combat Action Ribbon w/ 1 Award Star
Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Service Star
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 Service Stars
National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
• 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. General Gray routinely stops by to donate his recently read books.
• He has honorary degrees from Lafayette College, Monmouth University, Norwich University, the National Defense Intelligence College, and Franklin University.
General Gray appeared on the Birthday Ball episode of Major Dad, a second season episode that celebrated the 215th birthday of the Marine Corps. He appeared as himself.
Personal Gray married the former Jan Goss of Burlington, Vermont on 20 July 1980.
He enjoys hunting, fishing, and reading.