Obituaries for Saturday, December 22, 2007

• Col. Leon W. Gray

Col. Leon W. Gray

Col. Leon W. Gray died Nov. 26, 2007, in Tucson, Ariz., at the age of 94.

Born in Lockney, Texas, Leon W. Gray arrived in Tucson at the age of 2.

Gray was a highly decorated WW II veteran who flew photo reconnaissance missions (unarmed) in enemy airspace with the P-38 Lightning and British Mosquito in the European theater. He was co-commander with Elliott Roosevelt in North Africa, where upon, FDR stayed for dinner with his son and Leon on his way to Tunis for the Yalta Conference in 1943. Col. Gray was Commander of 12th Reconnaissance Squadron flying P-51 and Spitfire missions to northern Italy during the Trieste Crisis. He was also Commander of 25th Bomb Group, 8th AAF in Watton, England, 1944-1945. He flew the first night mission and advanced the strategic and tactical value of photographic reconnaissance. Col. Gray received the British Distinguished Flying Cross medal from King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Col. Gray retired in 1967 after 27 years active military service. He was enshrined into the Aviation Hall of Fame (Pima Air and Space Museum) in Tucson, Arizona, April 17, 1993.

Col. Gray’s decorations include Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, British Distinguished Flying Cross, Croix de Guerre/Avec Palme, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two Silver Stars and one Bronze Star, World War II Victory Medal.

The couple maintained a second home in Princeville for over 20 years. He was also a member of the Wednesday Golf Club at Wailua for many years.

Preceded in death by his wife, Jean B. Gray; and his best friend Sen. Barry Goldwater, he is survived by his wife Julianne (Keaton) Gray; children, Lynda Gray Kuebler (Denis), Carolyn Gray Bell, Michael Gray (Stephanie), Kathleen Gray Barclay (Josh); five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Graveside service to be held at East Lawn Palms Cemetery, 5801 E. Grant Rd., on Saturday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. Arrangements by East Lawn Palms Mortuary in Tucson.


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