From where I sit at my desk as I write this, I can see on my bookshelves the two-volume set titled Al Gray, Marine: The Early Years, 1950-1967 Vol 1 and Al Gray, Marine: The Early Years, 1968-1975 Vol. 2, both by Scott Laidig. I’m mentioned in the second volume which relates, among other things, the fall of South Vietnam to the North Vietnamese communists in April 1975. Al Gray, then a Marine colonel, saved my life—I escaped under fire by helicopter.
I have stayed in touch with General Gray over the years since the fall of Saigon. But I don’t call him Al anymore. That stopped when he became first a Marine general and then the twenty-ninth commandant of the Marine Corps. Ever since, I have called him sir.
Because of my relationship with General Gray, I was invited to attend a banquet hosted by the Iwo Jima Association of America at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia on February 18, 2023. General Gray was there, and I approached him and spoke to him briefly. That made the trip worthwhile.
I first met Al Gray in the early 1960s when he was a Marine captain, and I was moving all around in South Vietnam intercepting and exploiting the radio communications of the invading North Vietnamese. He was commanding Marine combat units attacking the North Vietnamese invaders.
More next time.