Ross Franklin Gray, born on 1 August 1920 at Talledega Springs, Alabama, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 22 July 1942. Following training at Parris Island, S.C., and New River, N.C., he was sent to the Pacific where he participated with the Fourth Marine Division in the invasions of Roi-Namur, Marshalls, and Saipan and Tinian, Marianas. Promoted to sergeant in August 1944, he returned to the United States for specialized training in the installation, reconnaissance, and neutralization of mine fields.
After rejoining the Fourth Division, he took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima on 19 February 1945. On 21 February, his platoon came under heavy enemy fire while advancing toward high ground northeast of Number 1 airfield. After withdrawing his men from the field of fire, he advanced alone through a heavily mined area; though assailed by furious enemy fire, he cleared a path through the field to a network of strongly fortified gun emplacements.
Armed only with satchel charges, Sergeant Gray systematically approached, attacked, and destroyed six Japanese gun positions by boldly hurling short-fused explosives while under continuous vicious fire. Singlehandedly, he wiped out a strong enemy garrison and completely disarmed a large mine field before rejoining his unit.
Fatally wounded by an enemy shell on 27 February, Sgt. Gray was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his great personal valor, daring tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of extreme peril.
(DE-1054: displacement 2,624; length 414'6"; beam 44'; draft 18'; speed 27.4 knots; complement 247; armament 1 5-inch, 4 21-inch torpedo tubes, ASROC, DASH; class Knox)
Gray (DE-1054) was laid down on 19 November 1966 at Seattle, Wash., by Todd Shipyards Corp.; launched on 3 November 1967; delivered on 27 March 1970; and commissioned on 4 April 1970.
Once completed and commissioned, Gray, designed and built to screen attack and support ships and operate against submarines, would operate either alone or with a hunter-killer group, able to seek out and destroy enemy submarines with the latest and most advanced ASW equipment. Moreover, her ability to perform blockade, surveillance, and search and evacuation missions at a moment’s notice will add to the Navy’s deterrent force and aid in the continuing task of ‘keeping the peace.’”
Ultimately decommissioned on 29 September 1991, Gray was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 11 January 1995, and disposed-of by scrapping.
Interim update, Robert J. Cressman
10 May 2021