The cover of this month’s Leatherneck magazine shows a picture of Al Gray, the Marine officer who saved my life during the fall of Saigon. Inside is an extensive article on General Gray. It mentions briefly his work in the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975.
Al Gray is a hero to Marines. I’ve never met a Marine who didn’t know who Al Gray is. He started his career as an enlisted man, later attained officer status. In his early years, he worked in the signals intelligence business but then became a combat commander.
I first me Al Gray in the early 1960s in Vietnam. In those days he was a captain. As we both crisscrossed South Vietnam, we kept running into one another. And my work as the signals intelligence guy in support of Marine units in combat meant that I was kept up to date on the latest about Al—where he was and what he was doing.
I always enjoyed the rank equivalency I shared with Al. As he moved up in the Marine ranks, I did the same as a civilian employee of the U.S. government. After the fall of Saigon, as I joined the executive ranks, he became a general. The parallel continued until he became Commandant of the Marine Corps. At that point, I stopped calling him Al and addressed him as “sir.”
I’ve told the story of General Gray’s rescue of me from the fall of Saigon before in this blog, but it’s worth repeating.