Date Signed: 3/27/2024 | ALMARS Number: 005/24
ALMARS : 005/24

R 271900Z MAR 24
ALMAR 005/24
REF/A/MSG/ALMAR 004/24//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1.  General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, died March 20, 2024 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia.  He was 95.  General Gray was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 39 years, Jan, who passed away January 30, 2020.
2.  General Gray was born on June 22, 1928, in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 after dropping out of college to fight in Korea.  He served as a radio operator with the Amphibious Reconnaissance Platoon, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.  He attained the rank of sergeant before earning his commission as a second lieutenant on April 9, 1952.  His classmates at The Basic School described him as the most enthusiastic and spirited man in his platoon.
3.  After graduating from the Special Basic Course and Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he returned to Korea for service with 1st Marine Division.  He served a tour as an artillery officer with 2d Battalion, 11th Marines and a subsequent tour as an infantry officer with 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.  In October 1953, he was promoted to first lieutenant.
4.  Returning to the United States in December 1954, First Lieutenant Gray was assigned to 8th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until August 1955, when he attended the Communications Officer School in Quantico, Virginia.  He was promoted to captain in July 1955.  Captain Gray took charge of 1st Special Communications Platoon in May 1956 and deployed to U.S. Communications Facility, Yokosuka, Japan for special duty with the U.S. Naval Security Group Detachment.  There, Captain Gray served in a variety of “special command and staff positions” until the late spring of 1961.
5.  In May 1961, he was assigned as a special operations and plans officer in Headquarters, Marine Corps G-2 Division’s Signals Intelligence Branch.  Captain Gray led development of employment concepts for the Radio Battalion and establishment of the Marine signals intelligence MOS community.  He deployed to U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to command a detachment conducting “extremely sensitive collection operations in support of the Navy and the National Security Agency running a special operation for the Intelligence Community.”  He was promoted to major in February 1963.
6.  Major Gray deployed to Danang Air Base, South Vietnam in May 1964, commanding a composite force consisting of a radio detachment of 3 officers and 27 enlisted Marines from 1st Radio Company, Fleet Marine Force Pacific (FMFPAC), a 76-person infantry detachment from 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, and reinforced with 81mm mortars.
7.  Under Gray’s resolute leadership, Marine Advisory Group One earned the distinction of being the first Marine ground unit to conduct independent operations in Vietnam.  This force employed groundbreaking tactics and technology while conducting counterinsurgency training for South Vietnamese irregular forces, operating from a training base at Khe Sanh.  The force operated a series of communication facilities at Khe Sanh, Tiger Tooth Mountain, Monkey Mountain, and in Bạch Mã.
8.  In October 1965, Major Gray extended in Vietnam and joined 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, serving concurrently as regimental communications officer, regimental operations officer, and as an artillery aerial observer.
9.  In April 1967, he was assigned command of the Composite Artillery Battalion and the Free World Military Forces at Gio Linh.  During this period of command, Major Gray received the Silver Star for his timely and heroic actions evacuating wounded Marines from an unmarked minefield.  In September 1967, he was reassigned to III Marine Amphibious Force in Da Nang, where he commanded 1st Radio Battalion elements throughout I Corps.  He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in October 1967.
10.  In February 1968, he returned to Washington, D.C., for duty with the Defense Special Projects Group as Chief, Intelligence and Operations Division.  During this assignment he met his future wife, Jan Goss Gray, who was working as an analyst and secretary at the Defense Special Projects Group.
11.  He was reassigned to the Marine Corps Development and Education Command in Quantico, in November 1968, and was tasked with the development of interim doctrine for employment of sensor technology in the Marine Corps.  Lieutenant Colonel Gray and Jan Goss had their first date during Labor Day weekend of 1969, an event which the couple marked as the point they fell in love.  Duty soon called and Lieutenant Colonel Gray returned to Vietnam, where he continued to be involved with surveillance and reconnaissance matters within I Corps' area of operations.
12.  Upon his return to Quantico, he was assigned duty as the Chief of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Division, at the Development Center until August 1970.  He attended the Command and Staff College where he graduated with honors and was elected Class President by his peers for earning their admiration and respect.  In June 1971, he transferred to 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, where he assumed command of 1st Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment and Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/2.  The BLT deployed to the Mediterranean in September 1971 as part of the 34th Marine Amphibious Unit and returned to the U.S. in March 1972.  Lieutenant Colonel Gray took command of 2d Marine Regiment in April, was promoted to colonel in August, then was assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 2d Marine Division.
13.  Colonel Gray attended the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from August 1973 to June 1974, and upon graduation, was assigned to 3d Marine Division, Okinawa, to command 4th Marines and serve as Camp Commander of Camp Hansen.  He later served jointly as the Commanding Officer for the 33d Marine Amphibious Unit, Commanding Officer, Regimental Landing Team 4, and Deputy Commander, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade, leading the evacuation of Saigon in April.
14.  Reassigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in August 1975, Colonel Gray was assigned as Deputy Director, Training and Education Division, Manpower Department.  He was advanced to brigadier general on March 24, 1976, and presided over a special group within the Marine Corps Reserve until June 11, 1976, when he was assigned duties as Commanding General, Landing Force Training Command, Atlantic, and Commanding General, 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade. His performance in this command led him to be known as the “face of the Marine Corps to NATO.”
15.  In his next assignment, Brigadier General Gray directed the Development Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command in Quantico, from October 1978 to May 1981.  He promoted to major general in February 1980.
16.  Major General Gray assumed command of 2d Marine Division on June 4, 1981.  He attributes the worst day of his Marine Corps career during this period of command.  On October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber with links to Hezbollah detonated a massive truck bomb at the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, leveling the building and killing 241 service members, the majority of them Marines from BLT 1/8.  As 2d Marine Division’s Commanding General, Major General Gray offered his resignation, the only senior officer to do so.  The offer was declined.
17.  Gray was promoted to lieutenant general on August 29, 1984, and assumed duties as Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic; Commanding General, II Marine Amphibious Force; and Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Europe.  The Secretary of the Navy, Honorable James Webb selected Gray to serve as 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps.  With it came promotion to General and he assumed the duties as Commandant of the Marine Corps on July 1, 1987.
18.  Commandant Gray presided over significant changes in Marine Corps training, with an emphasis on large-scale maneuver in desert and cold-weather environments, and reshaped Marine doctrine to one of maneuver warfare.  This transformation in the aftermath of the Vietnam War-era included the development of a maritime special operations capability, emphasis on the education of leaders, establishment of Marine Corps University, and development of a long-range desert operations capability.  He had his official photograph taken in the Camouflage Utility Uniform, the first Commandant to have done so, famously remarking that “every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman.  All other conditions are secondary.”
19.  General Gray retired on June 30, 1991 and resided in the Northern Virginia area.  He remained dedicated to Marines and to the Corps through a number of non-profit boards, museums, veterans organizations and other causes.  He made regular appearances at Marine Corps events throughout each year to include Birthday Balls, formal schools graduations, commemorations, and others.  He made an annual trip to the Jacksonville, N.C. memorial for those lost in the Beirut Bombing.  The National Security Agency inducted him into its Hall of Honor in 2008 for his pioneering efforts and accomplishments in the establishment and development of the Marine signals intelligence field.
20.  General Gray had foundational impacts on the modern Marine Corps, leaving an awe-inspiring legacy and shaping the service for generations of Marines to come.
21.  General Gray’s personal decorations and awards include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster in lieu of second award; the Navy Distinguished Service Medal with gold star in lieu of second award; the Silver Star Medal; the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and a gold star in lieu of a second award; the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” and three gold stars in lieu of second, third, and fourth awards; the Purple Heart with a gold star in lieu of a second Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal; the Joint Service Commendation Medal; the Navy Commendation Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon with a gold star in lieu of a second award.
22.  From their first date in September of 1969, General Gray and Jan were separable only by fidelity to Corps and duty.  After a brief engagement, then-Major General Gray and Jan married on July 27, 1980, in Burlington, Vermont.  Throughout their marriage of nearly 40 years, Mrs. Gray gave her time and efforts unselfishly to the Marine Corps.  She was best known for her selfless dedication to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Marine Corps Scholarship Program, the Navy Wifeline Program, the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, and the families of casualties from the Beirut Bombing.  In 1985, she was lauded with the Marine Corps League Distinguished Service Award.  In 1991, the Department of the Navy bestowed on her its Distinguished Public Service Award, recognizing her years of dedication to the men, women and families of the Department of the Navy.  Jan Gray passed away on January 30, 2020.
23. A public visitation, organized by the estate of General Gray, will be held from 1400-1600 and 1800-2000, April 7, 2024 at Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington St, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, 703-549-0074.  The uniform for the 7 April viewing is Dress Blue/White Bravo with cloth belt, white gloves, and mourning band.  There will be an open-to-the-public Full Honors Ceremony in the National Capital Region at a location and time to be determined.  Burial services at Arlington National Cemetery will follow the funeral ceremony.
24.  In lieu of flowers, General and Mrs. Gray wish for donations to any of the following charitable organizations: Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund; Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation; Marine Youth Fitness Foundation; Marine Corps University Foundation; Marine Corps Heritage Foundation; Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; Hope for the Warriors; Toys For Tots; Carolina Museum of the Marine; Marine Corps Association; Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.
25.  Released authorized by Eric M. Smith, General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps.//