Retired Dec. 1, 1994.
Brigadier General George A. Gray III is commander, 438th Airlift Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.
General Gray was born in 1945, in Childress, Texas, and graduated from Oak Ridge High School, Orlando, Fla., in 1963. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from The Citadel in 1967 and a master's degree from Webster University in 1976. The general completed Air War College in 1987.
The general graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., in 1969. Following qualification training in the C-130, he was assigned to the 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron, Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Taiwan, where he flew combat missions into South Vietnam. In 1971 he was assigned to the 316th Tactical Airlift Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Va., where he served as a wing flight examiner. He then was transferred to Headquarters Tactical Air Command as a C-130 airlift mission manager.
Following the consolidation of all airlift under Military Airlift Command in 1975, General Gray was assigned to Headquarters Military Airlift Command, Directorate of Current Operations, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he was responsible for establishing the newly created Office of Tactical Airlift Management.
In 1977 General Gray was assigned as an airlift forces action officer, Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. In 1979 he was assigned to the deputy director for force development as a plans and programs officer. In that capacity, he served as the primary action officer to the deputy chief of staff for plans, operations and readiness, working key issues involving the Air Force Program Objective Memorandum. He also functioned as the liaison to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Air Force budget activities coordinating Air Force structure and funding issues to be resolved by the Defense Resources Board.
In 1981 General Gray was assigned to the 40th Tactical Airlift Squadron, 317th Tactical Airlift Wing, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., as the director of operations. During this time, he participated in the initial development of the C-130 Special Operations Low-Level II program in support of operational requirements levied by the Joint Special Operations Command. In 1983, at Pope Air Force Base, he assumed command of the 39th Tactical Airlift Squadron which has participated extensively during airborne and airland assaults on Point Salines during Operation Urgent Fury, the rescue of American citizens on Grenada.
In January 1985 General Gray was assigned to the 21st Air Force, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., as the director of combat operations and commander of the 1701st Mobility Support Squadron. From 1986 until 1987 General Gray attended Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Upon graduation, he was transferred to the Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., as director of plans and policy.
In June 1989 he assumed command of the 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla. In December 1989 he led the wing during Operation Just Cause in Panama, where it played a key role from initial combat operations to flying General Noriega to Florida in an MC-130.
In August 1990, as commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command Central Forces, General Gray again led the wing during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Forces under his command led the initial attack into Iraq, destroying two key early warning/ground control intercept sites and opening up a corridor in the Iraq defense system for coalition air forces. Follow-on missions included combat search and rescue, strategic reconnaissance, "Psyop" (psychological operations) leaflet drops and employing the BLU-82 bomb to open corridors in Iraqi minefields for coalition ground forces.
In October 1991 he was assigned as senior military assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. He assumed his current position in August 1992.
The general is a command pilot with 4,000 flying hours in the C-130 and more than 900 hours of combat time in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and Southwest Asia. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to brigadier general Aug. 1, 1992, with same date of rank.