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AL GRAY, MARINE—The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One
Reading “Al Gray, Marine—The Early Years, 1950-1967, stirs the heart and mind, leading one to imagine additional volumes with such subtitles as “Nobility While Soldiering” and “Inspiring Creative Leadership.”
In his lucid and masterful biography, author Scott Laidig, a decorated Marine combat veteran in Vietnam, clearly reinforces what every knowledgeable Marine already knows: General Alfred M. Gray Jr. is the greatest post-Vietnam Commandant the Corps has known, a general who has earned the right to march at the fore. Like others in American military history such as Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Lejeune, Vandegrift, Puller and Wilson, to name just a few, Gen Gray subordinated his own amazing contributions and achievements to the risk of battle, victory and his relationships with the officers and the men who served under him.
Combining an astonishing number of interviews with a formidable amount of facts collected from private sources, command chronologies, and public as well as military archives, to say nothing of the endless vignettes from close friends, superiors and subordinates, mentors and Gen Gray’s family members, Laidig writes about the years between June 1950 (Korea) and December 1967 (“Charlie” Ridge, Da Nang). The book portrays the fledgling growth and development of a creative military mind that one day would envision a new and advanced Marine Corps—one that would put the Corps back in the limelight after the near disastrous post-Vietnam era.
Said Gen Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret), former Commander, U.S. Central Command, of Gen Gray: “His greatest contribution would be a strategy for how our service would best meet our mission to win our country’s battles. General Gray saw a much more expansive role for us—a role that would not encroach on the roles of other services but complement them because of flexibility, readiness, adaptability, deployment, interoperability, and the expeditionary nature of our organization.”
In short, author Laidig sets the stage in this initial 400-page text for the leader who, years later, will become the 29th Marine Corps Commandant: combat service in Korea; Communications Officer School, Quantico, Va.; Staff, Washington, D.C.; among the first boots on the ground in Vietnam and returning to serve multiple tours in critical positions to include serving in 12th Marines, conducting operations from Tiger Tooth Mountain, commanding the Gio Linh Outpost and learning of the coming North Vietnamese Army’s 1968 Tet offensive.
From such valuable combat and administrative experiences would slowly evolve a belief that the Corps should be a reservoir of combat capability that can shape, organize and meet aggression in the most effective and efficient manner possible. For the maturing general-to-be, rigid Corps structures and dogmatic organizational designs would no longer be acceptable. Gen Gray would insist upon flexible and imaginative organization and inspired leadership. There would be brand new operational concepts.
“Al Gray, Marine—The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One” is a wise and winning introduction to a good man and soon-to-be great leader. The author’s admiration for his subject is both apparent and deserving, as is the respect that readers will have for Scott Laidig. By providing us with Gen Gray’s early higher echelon experiences, insights and understandings, coupled with the overall picture of the Vietnam War and America’s role in it, the book is all the more captivating.
Importantly, proceeds from the book will be donated to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
And, Scott, when can we expect Volume Two? And, possibly, Volume Three, the general’s private letters, military correspondence and unpublished writings?
AL GRAY, MARINE—The Early Years, 1950-1967, Volume One
By Scott Laidig
Published by Potomac Institute Press
389 pages. Stock #0985248300
$44.96 MCA Members. $49.95 Regular Price
- Author Interview: Scott Laidig On His Book "Al Gray, Marine: The Early Years, 1950-1967 Vol. 1" (Magazine Page)
- Leatherneck - February 2013 (Issue)
- AL GRAY, MARINE: The Early Years, 1950–1967, Vol. 1 (Book Review)
- Meet the Legend, Meet the Author: General Al Gray Book Signing (Event)
- Weekend Extra - March 26, 2013 (Magazine Page)
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Today in USMC History
1941 - The Japanese attacked American garrisons at Wake Island, Guam and the Philippines.
2001 - TF58 Marines secure American Embassy, Kabul, AF.
Related Story: A New Operating Environment By Michael E. Ennis Marine Corps Gazette (Aug 2002)
Historic Leatherneck Magazine Covers
Leatherneck Staff Artist, Technical Sergeant Robert Fleischauer, felt that our July cover should be commemorative of the Fourth of July. Since the members of the missile units are probably the Corps' best rocketeers, he picked them to perform a standard Fourth of July action. Whether or not the "Honest Johnny" is useful as a combat piece is a matter for debate, but you can't beat it for morale." [July 1957.]
“The Join Up on the Nick” by Major Alex Durr, USMCR, a member of the History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va.
Hospitalman Daniel T. Bobic, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, rappelled at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, in late April, 2002.
The oldest post of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, is celebrating 200 years of excellence. Posed near the Barracks main gate were members of the official Color Guard of the United States Marine Corps (left to right): LCpl Joseph N. Keough, rifleman; Sgt Blake L. Richardson, Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps; Cpl Gerardo A. Guajardo, organizational color bearer; and LCpl Gregory A. Serwo, rifleman.
GySgt Verlando Frazier, East Coast Food Service Management Team, looked ready to dig into some of the new items included in MREs.
This photo by Sgt Earnie Grafton of Marines from Fox Co., 2/4 shows varied emotions as they greeted the coalition forces outside Kuwait city.
A fleet of trucks was needed to transport Dr. Felix de Weldon’s original model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue from the sculptor’s home in Newport, R.I., to the grounds of the Marine Military Academy at Harlingen, Texas. After the statue’s arrival, a nearly around-the-clock effort by skilled workmen was required in order to have the memorial reassembled and ready for dedication ceremonies on April 16, 1982.
In April this year (1981), two squadrons of AV-8A “Harriers” sailed for the Mediterranean aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. Purpose of the cruise was to demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps team’s capability to augment naval forces in any area of the World on short notice and to provide at-sea training for Marine Harrier pilots.
The cover of Leatherneck’s Bicentennial issue is an oil painting by the late Colonel Donald L. Dickson, USMCR. The painting depicts General George Washington’s Colonial troops at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Va., during the French and Indian War.
Sightseeing tours for the men of the Marine Barracks, San Juan, Puerto Rico, include a trip to the El Morro Fortress. San Juan is now retired as a Post of the Corps.
The Marines in Vietnam have found that the programs which work best are those which operate close to the people. Our July cover is a mixed media (acrylic and charcoal) by Art Editor James L. Hopewell. It catches the spirit of Marines who enjoy their relationship with the Vietnamese around them.
In Naples, Italy, Marines are responsible for the internal security of the Headquarters of NATO’s Southern European Command, while the elite Carabinieri Corpa provides external security. PFC Robert M. Mallard’s NATO shield was admired by a Carabiniere as the two men prepared to take up their side-by-side posts at the entrance of the imposing NATO Headquarters, which appears in the background of this cover.
"We've Fought In Every Clime And Place": Stamping out the Caco Insurrection in the Republic d' Haiti.
January 2002: The Marines engraved another mark in the rich history of the Corps when they came from more than 400 miles offshore to establish a forward operating base south of Kandahar in the war on terrorism. The Marine CH-46 helicopter on the cover, photographed by PH1(AW/SW) Greg Messier, USN, fought in the desert sand to land and resupply Marines such as the ones (inset) photographed by Sgt Joseph R. Chenelly.
January 2001: This firefight during the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Campaign of 1950 was painted by “Chosin Few” veteran Jack Cannon, who served with Company B, 1st Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment and resides in the warmer climes of New Mexico. The cover was part of Leatherneck’s 50th anniversary salute to the Korean War veterans.
January 1992: This cover photograph of runners during Marine Corps Marathon XVI in Washington, D.C., was photographed by Sgt Deirdre Hallett.
January 1991: This month’s cover by Ross Simpson captures the Marines’ waiting-but-ready posture in the Middle East.
January 1982: Participants in the Sixth Annual Marine Corps Marathon presented a colorful spectacle as they began the 26-mile, 385-yard run in Washington, D.C., November 1, 1981. The cover photo, by Tom Bartlett, was taken from a bridge overlooking Highway 50 about a half-mile from the starting line.
January 1981: Nearly 7,800 runners participated in the Fifth Annual Marine Corps Marathon held in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The oldest finisher was 78; the youngest was 10. Leatherneck staffer Ron Lunn pre-positioned himself near the Nation’s Capitol to photograph runners during their 14th mile of the 26-mile, 385-yard course.
January 1972: This month’s cover, by Marine Combat Artist Peter Gish, shows members of the New Corps sightseeing in the Old World. While on liberty in Athens, Greece, the 3d Bn, Eighth Marines, were able to tour the Erektheon Porch and Cariatides. The water color is from the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art collection.
Originally Published December 1983 -- Something tells us that we could date the cover without knowing when it was published.
Originally Published December 1972 -- We're not sure what's more interesting, Santa or the old style gas pump.
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This November 1992 article in the Marine Corps Gazette looked at the uniform regulations of 1859 and the attempt to standardize uniforms within the Corps. Read the story and see more pics.
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