Former Fort Gordon commander dies in wreck

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Lt. Gen. Robert Gray, who died Wednesday in a Jenkins County car crash, was the Fort Gordon commander in the 1990s.
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 3:02 PM
Last updated 9:27 PM
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Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray, a former Fort Gordon commander and chief of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, died Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident outside Millen, Ga.

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Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray, a former Fort Gordon commander and chief of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, died Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident outside Millen, Ga.  Special
Special
Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray, a former Fort Gordon commander and chief of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, died Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident outside Millen, Ga.

As Fort Gordon’s first black commander, Gray diversified leadership at a time when the black population was increasing in Augusta, former Mayor Bob Young said.

Gray commanded the Army post from May to July 1990 and August 1991 to July 1994. He retired from the Army in 1997 with more than 31 years of service.

The Georgia State Patrol continues to investigate the fatal wreck.

Jenkins County Coroner Henry Young said Gray was driving a pickup on the Georgia Highway 21 bypass when his vehicle collided with an 18-wheel tractor-trailer. The accident occurred between 6 and 6:30 a.m.

There were no passengers in Gray’s vehicle, the coroner said.

He was remembered Wednes­day as a strong leader who remained active in community affairs after his retirement.

“He understood the importance of the ties of the military post and the city. He did everything he could to strengthen it,” Bob Young said. “His door was always open to us. He was a very engaged member of our community.

“I thought it was very important for this community to have an African-American in a key leadership position,” he continued. “He was extremely competent.”

After leaving Fort Gordon in 1994, Gray served with the U.S. Army Europe and the 7th Army. Other positions included 35th Signal Brigade commander at Fort Bragg, N.C., and deputy director for plans, programs and systems for the Office of the Secretary of the Army during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Gray oversaw Fort Gor­don’s expansion after the Per­sian Gulf War when three units were moved to the base during the nation’s Base Realignment and Closure initiatives.

He was also instrumental in initiating changes to technology and enhanced technical training used by the Signal Center, according to military officials.

Pat Blanchard served as the chairman of the Au­gusta Metro Chamber of Com­merce’s Military Affairs Committee during Gray’s command.

“I was always very impressed with him. He was a capable leader and a great man. I was deeply saddened by the news today,” said Blanchard, the board vice chairman for First Bank of Georgia.

Gray’s good citizenship continued after his appointment at Fort Gordon ended. He was a familiar face at community events and veteran services and supported community initiatives, Blanchard said.

“He had a lot of leadership skills and, as they say in the military, he was a great soldier,” he said.

Clint Bryant, Augusta State University’s athletic director, was a longtime friend. The two used to meet monthly as part of a group called the Ten Club to discuss intellectual topics.

“He was very bright, very smart. I can tell you one thing, he loved his country,” Bryant said. “This community, our nation has lost a great commander.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Bruce Harris, the commander of Fort Gordon from June 1986 to June 1988, said he was saddened by the loss of an individual he knew as an outstanding soldier.

“I knew his talents and watched everything he was able to do,” Harris said. “It’s tragic that it had to happen the way it did.”

Comments (33) Add comment
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afadel
758
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afadel 11/23/11 - 04:09 pm
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I met General Gray when he

I met General Gray when he was elected Chair of the Columbia County Democratic Party. He was an intelligent, polite, respectful, hard-working and inspirational. My condolences to his family. Our area has lost a true patriot and servant.

Brad Owens
5435
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Brad Owens 11/23/11 - 04:21 pm
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Tragic. He was a person of

Tragic. He was a person of substance.

Rest in Peace General.

Riverman1
123895
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Riverman1 11/23/11 - 04:23 pm
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What a shame. Condolences to

What a shame. Condolences to his family.

0
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augustagolfgirl 11/23/11 - 04:33 pm
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So very sad to hear this.

So very sad to hear this. Thoughts go out to his family. We never know when our time is going to be up, love those around you.

AutumnLeaves
12038
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AutumnLeaves 11/23/11 - 04:43 pm
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My condolences to everyone

My condolences to everyone that loves him and he had a positive impact on. May they be consoled and may he rest in peace.

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 11/23/11 - 04:58 pm
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He will truly be missed. I

He will truly be missed. I am so glad that I had the pleasure of serving under him. My prayers go out to his family.When I think that this is the time to be thankful I want his family to remember that ther are many that is thankful that he was a part of their life. God bless you all.

RunningMan
346
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RunningMan 11/23/11 - 05:03 pm
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Wow, this is truly sad. My

Wow, this is truly sad. My heart goes out to the family and the military community. I served and spoke with him on numerous occasions. A great person who dedicated himself to helping others.

John_Stokes
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John_Stokes 11/23/11 - 05:11 pm
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I server under him as a

I server under him as a soldier at Fort Gordon and became friends after retiring. He was a great man. He will be missed. My condolences to his family.

willie7
1093
Points
willie7 11/23/11 - 05:48 pm
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Mighty sad!. My condolences
Unpublished

Mighty sad!. My condolences go out to Mrs. Gray who is a wonderful lady.
The general celebrated his 70th birthday several weeks ago and was so happy.
Served this community well.

alpha371
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alpha371 11/23/11 - 06:37 pm
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A great loss of a great

A great loss of a great person. A leader. An icon. An example to follow. So many of us soldiers owe him our very lives. He helped many of us recognize the value of selfless service and responsibility. A tragic loss. Mother Grey and Ms. Grey my sincerest condolences to the entire family.

NYMIZZP
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NYMIZZP 11/23/11 - 06:54 pm
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Wow, I am so shocked. Are you

Wow, I am so shocked. Are you sure? that's what I asked my friend who called me at 2330hrs (Belgium time) to let me know that my favorite General died this morning. He was my HERO, a true Soldier, Mentor, Role Model. I met LTG (ret) Gray when I was a brand new 2LT. He always find time to stop and give words of inspiration. His death is a tragic loss to the many lives he touched. Mrs. Grey and Family, on behalf of my family and I our prayers are with you during this time. Be Blessed!

ram5430
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ram5430 11/23/11 - 06:57 pm
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I have known Bob Gray for

I have known Bob Gray for almost 20 years. When I first met him he had just retired from being Deputy CINCEUR, and earlier CG Fort Gordon. I was the GOP Chairman for Columbia County for two terms in the 90s. He told me he was a Republican at heart - like many African - Americans of the 30's or so, I tried to get him to run for office in Columbia County, but he was starting a stint as a rep for a Defense Contractor. He and Max Cleland were close friends from service days. Max was bashed in one of the elections and General Gray - a close friend of Max - was turned off by the treatment that Max got in the election. We left for Florida for 4 years before returnin gin 2005 - and General Gray was incensed about the treatment Max got. Shortly after our return, I found that because of the treatment Max had gotten earlier, the General was disgusted and had returned to his Dem roots and he became the Chairman of the Columbia County Democratic Party.. He and I have become close friends over the past 6 years and his loss is our County's loss. The GENERAL will always be a "friend" of mine. God Bless his bride of many years - Annie - and his children that I did not have a chance to know. An Augusta treasure has passed.

Dick Manion

Richard A. "Dick" Manion - Grovetown GA

sonny craven
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sonny craven 11/23/11 - 07:19 pm
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Bob Gray was a fellow

Bob Gray was a fellow graduate of Signal Officer Candidate School in the mid-sixties. He was a true friend and was well-respected throughout the Army, as attested by his retirement as a three-star general. I am so saddened by his death, as he was a gregarious personality and possessed an easy laugh. He was thoughtful too. My father was a career soldier and I had told Bob he almost never missed a chance to visit the post daily. When my father died, Bob sent me a personal note of condolences and the fort's garrison flag that had flown over the fort on that day. No doubt my OCS classmates join with me in mourning the loss of a great Soldier. Too bad someone had to politicize this tributes forum to Bob by relating a distracting story of how Bob changed from Republican to Democrat. Is nothing sacred? Above all else, Bob was a proud, patriotic American. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/24/11 - 01:55 am
0
0
Tragic loss:o( Condolences to

Tragic loss:o(
Condolences to family and friends...

Raincheck
0
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Raincheck 11/23/11 - 08:00 pm
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0
Thank you all for the

Thank you all for the sentiments. I will pass this on to the family.

L. Martin II (Nephew)

Sargebaby
4694
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Sargebaby 11/23/11 - 08:49 pm
0
0
Such a tragic loss!

Such a tragic loss! Condolences to the family of my old "Boss."

TheArmyWife
0
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TheArmyWife 11/23/11 - 10:18 pm
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0
I am deeply saddened by the

I am deeply saddened by the sudden loss of LTG Gray, he was always so very kind and gracious. May God comfort his dear family and grant him eternal rest.

MARGJE
0
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MARGJE 11/23/11 - 11:27 pm
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We will never know when our

We will never know when our time is up on this earth. My husband and I just saw LTG Gray at the Fort Gordon Main Exchange this past weekend and we both had a wonderful conversation with him. LTG Gray is a kind and wonderful man. He will be missed. Our condolences goes out to the Gray Family and fellow soldiers who served under him.

wgrahamjr
0
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wgrahamjr 11/24/11 - 11:34 am
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I have known LTG Gray for

I have known LTG Gray for over 35 years. My wife Hattie and I are shocked and very sad. Our prays goes out to General Gray's family. I am a retired Command Sergeant Major who served with LTG Gray in the 35th Signal Brigade, (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, NC and in Germany. He was one of my most important mentors. I considered him to be a friend and knew him as a true leader. Many times he would share with me his experiences and provided me with good counsel. I am blessed to have had this Great man in my life. To LTG Robert E. Gray, my former Commander and friend... a final Army Signal Corps, Hooaahh... CSM(R) Wilbur S. Graham, Jr.

jtra1n
0
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jtra1n 11/24/11 - 02:24 am
0
0
I met LTG Robert gray for

I met LTG Robert gray for only the second time this last weekend at a RC Democratic Party function where he gave a tremendous presentation filling in for someone else at the last minute and will never forget his passion for the troops and public service. He told us not to thank the soldiers but to express that we are obliged to them and indebted. To act as citizens who will care for the soldiers, their spouses, and children. he spoke positively of the future so long as we are sincere stewards of our soldiers and fellow countrymen. Having just taken in the great LTG Gray I'm not quite certain of how to process the community's incredible loss but I am ever grateful to have met him. His words, passion, and sense of duty will undoubtedly live on in those he touched along the path of his monumental life. To the family of LTG Robert Gray, I am obliged to you and I am indebted to him. Blessed Be.

82ndairborne
0
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82ndairborne 11/24/11 - 07:13 am
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0
We knew him when he was just

We knew him when he was just a Battalion Commander. All The Way Sir!

jkline
527
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jkline 11/24/11 - 07:35 am
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LTG Gray was the chief mentor

LTG Gray was the chief mentor for my generation of airborne signal officers. We can never repay what we owe him, and it is a worse world without him.

BTW
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BTW 11/24/11 - 12:06 pm
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What a tragic loss! My

What a tragic loss! My cousin's wife was General Gray's secretary. When her mother passed, there he was at the service comforting the family, especially the grandkids. He always had a smile and friendly handshake whenever I ran into him on post after his retirement. He was a very warm and careing leader and great role model. May God bless the intire family. Our thoughts and prayers and with you all.

Dr. Karen. LTC USA Ret
0
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Dr. Karen. LTC USA Ret 11/24/11 - 12:56 pm
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I have known this great

I have known this great leader for 25 years. Often called "daddy Gray" by me and many other young officers, he was so proud, with his his swaggered walk that his "soldiers" could rise to any occassion. This great leader, soldier, scholar, real person enjoyed getting the wrongs righted and thus provided monumental opportunities for so many young officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, which no other commander wanted to do in the 80's and 90's. He let it be known "I am putting you in command" do good because you are mine. His influence on getting Army women in leadership positions, units and commands at a time when now many cannot even phantom that, this was an issue in the 80's and 90's was more than any other General officer I have come to know. I will always take with me in this journey of with General Gray (daddy Gray), that he stood by me no matter what, and continued to be a mentor, friend, commander, scholar, and gracious person. I want his family to know, they know I am here today and in the coming months and years to move mountains and anything else to keep all of us moving in the direction our General, dad and friend would want. AWL

0
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Joyce Sanchez 11/24/11 - 01:24 pm
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My heart goes out to Major

My heart goes out to Major General Robert E. Gray's Family! He was such an amazing person,mentor, and father. He was going to be my senior project mentor and I was very excited to work with him because he was so impressive. I only knew him for 6 months or so, but I will never forget him. R.I.P Major..You will be missed!

CoastalDawg
126
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CoastalDawg 11/24/11 - 03:39 pm
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0
"Brad OwensWednesday, Nov. 23

"Brad OwensWednesday, Nov. 23 3:21 PMnew
Report Ignore user
Tragic. He was a person of substance.

Rest in Peace General."

Everyone is a person of substance; sometimes the world never sees that in an individual, sometimes the individual never realizes that within himself.

CoastalDawg
126
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CoastalDawg 11/24/11 - 03:44 pm
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I agree that the story

I agree that the story concerning the General's "conversion" from Republican to Democrat had no place in these tributes but one can guess the political persuasion of the person who felt compelled to relive Max Cleland's "mistreatment", which would be viewed differently by different people. Anyway, heroes are not automatic and they are hard to find but it sounds as if the late general could easily fill the shoes of a hero. God bless him and his loved ones at this time and God bless America. Thank you God for sending such a man and raising him to the level that he attained.

Beth Schoeffler
0
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Beth Schoeffler 11/25/11 - 03:44 pm
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General Gray was the Ultimate

General Gray was the Ultimate Soldier, he was one of the Greatest Generals I have ever served under. This is a very sad day. Everytime I saw him he was so genuinely nice. He was loved and respected by his soldiers. My heartfelt sympathies to the Gray family.
"Rest in peace, Sir!"

glambkin
0
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glambkin 11/25/11 - 08:34 pm
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LTC Gray commanded the 82d

LTC Gray commanded the 82d Signal Battalion when I reported to him as a 2LT. After a year as a Platoon Leader, he patiently tried to convince me during a Friday beer call that it was a good idea for me to move up to become his Adjutant. I vehemently protested, thinking that I was smarter than him when it came to leader development. Then he calmly convinced me by telling me to report to his office on Monday! A true leader and a Soldier's Soldier. God bless him and his family.

Glen Lambkin
COL (Ret)

troy gray
0
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troy gray 11/26/11 - 06:24 pm
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Robert was my uncle. he was a

Robert was my uncle. he was a father figure to me when my dad died when i was young. i'm glad i had the pleasure to spen as much time with him as i did. he desirves to be burried at arlington in D.C. i will miss him everyday for the rest of my life. R.I.P Uncle Robert I LOVE YOU

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