Capt. Paul Nagle Gray
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St. John native was 'Navy's bravest man'


Paul Nagle Gray was born Oct. 8, 1916, in St. John, Kansas, the oldest son of Howard Jr. and Ella (Nagle) Gray. He graduated from St. John High School in 1934, and married Claire Bergeson of Boise, Idaho. They had two children, Donald Neil Gray and Kim Takako Gray.


Capt. Gray graduated from Marion Military Institute; U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1941; Air Command and Staff School in 1950; The National War College in 1966; George Washington University with a Master’s Degree in 1966; Military Assistance Institute in 1968; and U.S. Navy Management Course, Post Graduate School, Monterrey in 1969.


His long and illustrious naval career included assignments as Commander Air Task Group Three, Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station, New Orleans, and the ships USS Aludra and USS Kearsarge, Commander, River Patrol Force Vietnam, and as Chief, Navy Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Japan.


His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross (3), Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal (8), Presidential Merit Citation, Purple Heart (2), Distinguished Service Medal, Vietnamese Navy, Cross of Gallantry, Vietnamese Army, and Cross of Gallantry, Vietnamese Navy.


Capt. Gray was shot down five times by ground fire in the Korean War. He was among the Korean War heroes who inspired writings by James A. Michener, who dubbed him “the Navy’s bravest man.” These writings include the novel, The Bridges of Toko-ri; a short story, “The Forgotten Heroes of Korea” (published in Saturday Evening Post, May 10, 1952); and a feature article for American Press (AP), February 5, 1952.


Capt. Gray assisted as technical advisor for MGM and Paramount studios in the screenplays of Michener’s writings, Men of the Fighting Lady (1954, working title Panther Squadron) and The Bridges of Toko-ri (1955).


On Dec. 22, 1967, at Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action by President Lyndon B. Johnson.


In 1968, he was given the John Paul Jones Award by the Navy League of the United States, honoring him as the Navy’s most inspirational leader that year.


Capt. Gray joined Litton Industries in 1971 as Director of Defense Group Far East. He was responsible for overseeing the marketing and manufacturing of Litton’s Battery Terminal Equipment, TSQ-73 Missile Minder, LN-12/LN/30 Intertial Navigation Systems and the Tactical Data System of Gruman’s E2C aircraft in Japan. He was also responsible for gathering marketing and industrial intelligence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Korea. In 1985, he was professor of finance at National University, Escondido, California.


Paul Nagle Gray died Nov. 14, 2002, and is buried at Rosencrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.