|Birth: ||Oct. 18, 1913|
|Death: ||Nov. 26, 2007|
Col. Leon W. Gray October 18, 1913 - November 26, 2007 Born in Lockney, Texas, Arizona's native son arrived at the age of 2. In 1934, he graduated from Tucson High School, Tucson, Arizona, excelling in football, boxing, and swimming. Leon Gray attended the University of Arizona on football scholarship, where he played right guard for the team under the infamous coaching of Tex Oliver. It was the only U of A football team to win a conference title outright. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and graduated from the U of A in 1938. Col. Gray received his pilots' wings and commission from Aviation Cadet Training at Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas in 1939. His first assignment was to a fighter group in Panama. World War II Gray was a highly decorated WW II veteran who flew photo reconnaissance missions (unarmed) in enemy airspace with the P-38 Lightning and British Mosquito in the European theater. He was co-commander with Elliott Roosevelt in North Africa, where upon, FDR stayed for dinner with his son and Leon on his way to Tunis for the Yalta Conference in 1943. Col. Gray was Commander of 12th Reconnaissance Squadron flying P-51 and Spitfire missions to northern Italy during the Trieste Crisis. He was also Commander of 25th Bomb Group, 8th AAF in Watton, England, 1944-1945. During the war, Col. Gray executed numerous outstanding missions, conspicuous for the sheer courage and daring of their executions. He voluntarily undertook the most difficult tasks and accomplished them with such consummate skill that he inspired outstanding results in all pilots of his group. He flew the first night mission and advanced the strategic and tactical value of photographic reconnaissance to an unprecedented degree. Col. Gray received the British Distinguished Flying Cross medal from King George VI at Buckingham Palace. 1946 and 1947: Stateside, March Field, California: Col. Gray piloted USAF's first operational jet, the F-80 Shooting Star (Beautiful Doll), along with Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, setting world speed record for the first transcontinental west coast/east coast and back within daylight hours. During this time he was the winner of the auspicious Bendix Transcontinental Trophy Race, jet division, 1946 and again in 1947, flying the P-80 Shooting Star in 4 hrs. 2 min. with an average speed of 507 mph. 1950 and 1951: Commander of Williams AFB, Arizona. It was here that he had a cameo role in the movie "Air Cadet" which was filmed on base and he did all the lead flying for the film. At this time, he established the Acrojets Flying Team - the first officially recognized USAF precursor to the Thunderbird Team which succeeded in 1953. 1955: Alaskan Air Command, Elmendorf, AFB - training and operations officer. 1958: Commander, 4700th Air Defense Wing, Geiger Field, Washington - the first mach 2 flying command in the world. In 1959 he was the winner of William Tell Worldwide Weapons meet (rocket and missile firing), flying the F-104 Starfighter jet. 1960: Commander, Portland Air Defense Sector, Adair Air Force Station, Oregon. 1963: Vice-Commander, 25th Air Division, McChord AFB, Washington. 1964: Commander, Phoenix Air Defense Sector, Luke AFB, Arizona. Col. Leon W. Gray retired in 1967 after 27 years active military service. He was enshrined into the Aviation Hall of Fame (Pima Air and Space Museum) in Tucson, Arizona, April 17, 1993. Col. Gray's decorations include but not limited to: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, British Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre/Avec Palme, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star, World War II Victory Medal. Upon retirement Leon really, really liked golf! He maintained a home with his wife, Bunny at 49er's Country Club, Tucson, Arizona, and on August 30, 1980 made a hole-in-one on 18th hole, 142 yards. His second love was his Hawaiian ocean view where the couple maintained their second home on the beautiful island of Kauai. Preceded in death by his wife, Jean B. Gray; and his best friend, Sen. Barry Goldwater. He is survived by his wife, Julianne (Keaton) Gray; children, Lynda Gray Kuebler (Denis), Carolyn Gray Bell, Michael Gray (Stephanie), Kathleen Gray Barclay (Josh); grandchildren, Kelly Gibson (John), Kurt Kuebler, Brodie Bell, Jennifer Barclay, Jamie Hendricks (Bill); and two great-grandchildren. Graveside service to be held at East Lawn Palms Cemetery, 5801 E. Grant Rd., on Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. If you are unable to stand for 30 minutes, please bring a lawn chair. Arrangements by EAST LAWN PALMS MORTUARY.
Published in the Tucson Newspapers on 12/1/2007.
Juliane Logan-Keaton Gray (1951 - 2011)*
East Lawn Palms Cemetery & Mortuary
Created by: Gare Kunert Allen
Record added: Dec 02, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 23206972
Remembering you on this Memorial Weekend 2014|
Added: May. 26, 2014
Added: Sep. 23, 2013
I am the vine: you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5|
Gare Kunert Allen
Added: Dec. 2, 2007