Lt. Col. Leo R. Gray, USAC - WWII
Leo Gray, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen who fought in the skies over Europe during World War II, died Friday September 23, in his Coconut Creek home. He was 92.
Lt. Col. Leo R. Gray made significant contributions to the United States throughout his military and civilian careers. Soon after high school graduation, Lieutenant Colonel Gray joined the Army Air Corps and began his aviation cadet training in 1943. Little more than a year later he graduated from the Tuskegee Army Air field as a Second Lieutenant, single engine pilot. While stationed in Italy as a fighter pilot, Gray flew 15 combat missions in P-51s for a total of 750 hours flying time. He left active duty in 1946, but remained in the USAF Reserves until 1984. During his 41 years of military service, Lieutenant Colonel Gray earned a Coveted Air Medal with one Oak Leaf cluster and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Gray earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1950, a Masters degree from the University of Nebraska in 1952, and did post graduate work at the University of Maryland from 1962-1964. He began his 30 year career with USDA in 1953 as a Technical Assistant at the University of Massachusetts Agricultural Extension Service. Gray wore many hats in the USDA career. He served as an agricultural economist with the Economic Research Service, an economist with APHIS in California, and as Director, Program Planning Office of the Food Safety & Inspection Service to mention a few. In addition, he was an economic consultant to United States Department of Agriculture in West Africa.
His professional and civic life reflected his deep commitments to the Tuskegee Airmen, to agricultural economic research organizations, and to civil rights. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc, and in 1991 became founder and president of the Miami Chapter. He was the past president, vice president and treasurer of the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, the founder and past president of the Forum on Blacks in Agriculture, the past president of Good Hope East Civic Association in Silver Springs, MD, and a former member of the Richmond, California, Model Neighborhood Citizens Board. Other memberships included the Air Force Association, the Retired Officers Association, the NAACP, the Gulfstream Chapter AMMV, the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, and several more organizations.
Lieutenant Colonel Gray traveled extensively to North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. He is survived by his wife, Dianne, his 6 children, and 10 grandchildren.
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