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Grayisms and other thoughts on leadership from General Al Gray, USMC (Retired), 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Compiled by PAUL OTTE

“I don’t run a democracy. I train troops to defend democracy and I happen to be their surrogate father and mother as well as their commanding general.”

Major General
Alfred M. Gray, USMC
CG 2nd Marine Division and
the Carolina Marine Air Ground
Task Force (MAGTF)

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 3 About the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
  • 7 About Grayisms
  • 9 Grayism
  • 53 Additional Grayisms
  • 63 Additional Stories
  • 71 General Al Gray Biography
  • 77 To U.S. Marines
  • 79 Additional Information
  • 81 Works Cited

From the very beginning of working with General Gray, there were several things that became very obvious. Foremost, are how much he loves his Marines along with the Sailors who serve with them, and how much they love and respect him in return. He has great admiration for all our Armed Forces. Another thing is how humble he really is. It’s never been, and never will be about him. And part of that respect is how often people have General Gray stories to share with you – we gave them a name – Grayisms.

Lastly, we came to realize how little many Marines really know about him, especially in his earlier years when (it may be hard for many to believe) his impact on the Corps may have been even more significant than his years as the 29th Commandant.

That’s because he wasn’t willing to sit still long enough to cap- ture his history. We finally accomplished that when he sat for a series of video taped interviews in preparation for a series of books being written by the historian (and former Marine Major), Scott Laidig.

Always more willing to talk about others than himself, we (Scott, Master Sergeant J.D. Baker [USMC Retired], Lieuten- ant Colonel Eric Carlson [USMC Retired], and me) sat for over forty hours as General Gray spoke without notes, but with

powerful emotions about the Corps and the Marines he contin- ues to serve even today.

We were able to gain greater insight into this very special Marine who “took what he got, and made what he wanted.” This book is a compilation of the many sayings we have heard and heard repeated, as they have been shared from one Marine to another.

And thanks to Brigadier General Dave Reist, USMC (Retired) for the idea, we added just a few of the stories told by others about General Gray and the impact he had on them.

But the stories do not stop here. We have captured only a small part of General Gray. Ask any Marine that served with him, or have heard their own stories about the General, and odds are they will have a story, a Grayism, to share with you.

Paul Otte
Corporal, USMC (1961-1