Lindy Poling

A Tribute to Bob Gray

A Tribute to Bob Gray

A Tribute to Bob Gray

A Tribute to Bob Gray

Longtime Lessons of Vietnam supporter and LOV Link, Bob Gray, passed away on December 6, 2016. Bob was truly an angel to this teacher and Millbrook High School’s Lessons of Vietnam students. Not only did he serve as an outstanding Veteran Link every semester, he also connected LOV students with countless exceptional PBR-FVA members who served as Veteran Links from 2002-2011, as well.

When she heard the news, Susan Woodson Pilley, LOV Class 2003, wrote: “Mr. Gray certainly was a great part of the LOV Program. I’m glad I had the opportunity to be his Link and stay connected with him in the years to follow.”

My husband, daughter, and I were so glad that we had the opportunity to meet Bob in person at the 20th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Bob became a good friend, and I was fortunate to have many wonderful conversations with this honorable veteran. Bob Gray’s contributions to Millbrook High’s Lessons of Vietnam Program will never be forgotten.

I would like to share this veteran’s poignant essay, Contemplating The Wall, published in our Bridges Newsletter, Vol. IV, Issue 3—February 2003, with our followers:

Contemplating The Wall, By Robert L. Gray, RivDiv 572/594

Early on the morning of November 9, 2002, several friends and myself descended on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to place a wreath in remembrance of those who died fighting for our freedom. I have made this journey many times, but this time it was in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of The Wall. This visit was meaningful, because as I stood there mesmerized by the beauty of The Wall, I heard in the background the reading of names, the names of every individual inscribed on The Wall. I personally knew only two of the men etched in the polished black granite. We had all learned the art of driving, fighting and living on a 31-foot-long river patrol boat (PBR) in early 1968. They were two of the most wonderful men I ever had the chance to meet during my Naval career.

As in the past, I stood there not looking so much at the names, but rather into the smiling faces of those etched in stone. Smiling, yes, because they sensed that myself and many other Americans remembered them and love them for their sacrifice. As many of us have said of the many years, “BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I.”

The Wall is like a window into the past. I seldom shed tears anymore. For now I try to remember the men and women for their goodness, and not for what they became, victims of a violent war far away from home. While looking at the smiling faces reflecting from every name, I cannot help but wonder where they would be today and what they would be doing had they not have been killed defending South Vietnam and America. I imagine if my name were listed on this memorial, they would be standing in my place remembering me.

I often hear or see on radio and television or read in the newspaper comments about whether “our” war was justified. Did our men and women die in vain? Most people today believe the War was unjustified and should never have been fought. To me it is not a question of justification. Instead it is about remembering those who fought and died. They did what their country asked them to do, and I dare say, they would do it again. We did it at a time in our lives when we were most vulnerable, our learning years, and for many their teenage years; years when we should have been making our mark on the world. But we did it also because our government asked us.

Perhaps next year I will once again make my trek to Washington, D.C. to be surrounded by those Americans who gave their all, so that I and others might return home to our loved ones. In the meantime, I still have wonderful memories of friends gone by.

4 thoughts on “A Tribute to Bob Gray

  1. Kenneth Dodd, YN3, River Division 572

    I have tremendous appreciation for Bob Gray. As his Division Command Yeoman, I had front row seats to observing first hand the amazing bravery of Bob and his crew while in River Division 572. He always considered his crew first. Their safety was always foremost on his mind. I stood on our barge day after day waiting for their return from a long 12 to 14 hour patrol. They returned with smiles on their face, looking for a hot shower, chow and rest. I know that God has now welcomed Bob from a long, successful tour of serving his country, family, and friends.
    God Bless you, Bob. You were and are a honorable man and friend.

  2. Tom Dingbaum

    What a great tribute to Mr. Gray. I did not know him but he sure had it all together. His reflections on the Wall were exactly how things were and still are.

  3. Roy Granger

    I guess I know Bob a long time. I met him in Viet Nam as I was his boat engineer on his PBR during the egg basket incident that he had written about in the Brown Water Paper. He was a great leader then and as I understand it he was a great teacher. He was a good leader and kept his crew safe. I learned a lot from Bob and as my tour of duty on the PBR’s continued I became a Boat Captain to and used all the stuff Bob taught me while I was on his boat. I was saddened to hear of his passing as I was hoping to get to see him again. God Bless him and His Family

  4. Ralph J. Fries CWO-3 USN Ret River Section 543 & 535

    Bob was a great patriot, dedicated and Love of our Country throughout his life!!