Late Marine Corps General Al Gray honored in ceremony in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A legend in the military community who passed away in March was recognized in Onslow County on Thursday.

The public and military members past and present, came together at the Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville to honor the late General Al Gray.

Rickey Williams remembers how Gray’s leadership made an impact on his career in the military when the Marine barracks were attacked in Beirut in 1983.

“After the bombing, I did not want to stay in the Marine Corps, it kind of touched me a little bit but because of General Al Gray and the way that he was loving his Marines and always you could see him and feel it. So, I decided to stay in 21 years,” says Williams.

The Marines say the former Commandant and Second Marine Division Commander played a vital role in the history and relationship with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Retired Brigadier General Kevin Stewart says Gray proved his dedication to the Marine Corps and those he served with.

“He loved his Marines and Sailors and they loved him. So, when that tragedy happened, how he embraced the families. He went to almost every funeral. The only ones that he couldn’t go to were ones that were happening simultaneously,” says Stewart.

The ceremony included a remembrance and moment of silence to honor Gray.

The Marines say he attended the 40th anniversary observance of the Beirut bombing in 2023 where the community renewed a vow to never forget the lives lost.

“He’s going to always be remembered especially in this community, we love him and all Marines love him and those that didn’t get a chance to serve under General Al Gray, we keep his legacy going,” says Williams.

Jacksonville Mayor Sammy Phillips has proclaimed April 4th through April 7th as “A period of remembrance and honor for the life of General Al Gray.”

General Al Gray, who preferred to be called “Al Gray, Marine,” passed at his home on March 20th. He was 95-years-old.