Staff Sergeant Rex “Buddy” V. Gray (1922 – 1944)
10th Army Air Force Aviation Engineers, WWII – CBI, Bronze Star, KIA
Remembering – Staff Sergeant Rex V. Gray – MZHS “Hero of Air Power”
“Sgt Rex V Gray’s Body due Home Tomorrow from India-Burma War Theater”- What a sobering newspaper headline from the WW2 years. The remains of Sergeant Rex V Gray, the only son and youngest child of Rex B. and Lena Brown Gray of Weedville, arrived from the India-Burma theater to his hometown of Rockton where he received full military honors, and was buried in the Morningside Cemetery in DuBois. Staff Sergeant Rex “Buddy” Gray at the young age of 21 years paid the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty January 18, 1944 in India in the China-Burma-India (CBI) war theater. Sadly, his family heard of his death on January 26- the same day of the funeral of his maternal grandfather Samuel Brown.
Rex “Buddy” Gray, a descendent of the Valley’s pioneer Gray family, was born in Weedville, July 22, 1922, graduated from DuBois High School in 1940, and married Doris O Hjort of Byrnedale in July 1942. He never had a chance to start a family. They lived in Bradford where he worked for a short time until he entered the military service in December 1942. He was assigned to Company B of the 1905th Engineer Aviation Battalion of the 10th Army Air Force, and was trained in electrical engineering. He went overseas to Burma and India in the China-Burma-India Theater in September 1943.
“Mother of Sgt Rex Gray Given Bronze Medal” was another newspaper headline in May, 1945. The Bronze Star Medal had been posthumously awarded to Staff Sergeant Rex V Gray. The citation stated; “For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service from 1 December 1943 to 18 January 1944 while serving as squad leader of a construction platoon. Sgt Gray’s outstanding ability as a leader and his display of initiative was far beyond that of men of equal rank. He won the respect of his superior and the cooperation of his men through his unfailing cheerfulness and ability to efficiently organize tasks assigned to him. This was particularly demonstrated by his organization and supervision of approximately 500 I.T.A. (Indian Tea Association) laborers engaged in clearing the right of way for the Ledo/Stilwell Road. Sgt Gray was extremely cognizant of the welfare of his men as was evidenced by his clearing a booby trap infested area, rather than detailing anyone and he was accidently killed while personally directing night demolition at a time when such action was necessary to continue the uninterrupted supply of combat troops in China. Sgt Gray by his enthusiasm, initiative, and zealous performance of duty, materially affected the construction of that portion of the Ledo/Stilwell Road assigned this battalion.”
Rex Gray has three proud sisters, all in their 90s, living today. Buddy is another example of a Valley hero and an AAF “ground” member whom the Mt Zion Historical Society is proud to honor as one of its “Heroes of Air Power. Without these ground services to “keep them flying”, and in Rex’s case the ultimate sacrifice of service, America’s recognition for air supremacy would never have been achieved.
“Lest We Forget…”