39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Captain Ralph T. Gray
Airplane Commander
Ralph Timothy Gray was born September 24, 1922 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

On 25 May 1945, then 1st Lt Ralph Gray, per General Order 95, issued by Headquarters, 20th Air Force, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on 10 April 1945 while flying a practice-bombing mission.

The order reads as follows:

“For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on 10 April 1945 as Airplane Commander of a B-29 aircraft during a practice bombing mission over the Marianas Islands. The propeller of broke from one of the engines, and, turning at a high rate of speed struck the plane and penetrated the fuselage almost cutting it in two. As a result of the accident practically all flying controls were severed and communication lines cut. The aircraft was at the low altitude of 1000 feet and Lieutenant Gray through his superior professional ability flew his almost severed plane for approximately fifty minutes until he sighted a friendly convoy. Ordering the crew to bailout he remained at the controls of the plane until it reached such a low altitude that the possibility of his own escape was very doubtful. Assured that all crew members had safely parachuted safely from the aircraft he left the controls of the airplane and although he experienced extreme difficulty when the plane lurched forward, he managed to jump clear. His parachute opened just prior to his striking the water. Lieutenant Gray’s exceptional airmanship and his courageous action in placing the safety of his crew above that of himself are in keeping in the finest tradition of the Army Air Forces”.

Ralph and his wife Phyllis were married for 58 years, to this union there were six children, one daughter, Cathleen and five sons, Jim, Tom, Jerry, Joe and John, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grand children.

Immediately after the war Mr. Gray became a pilot for Northwest Airlines, retiring in 1977. Ralph piloted the first jet mail service into Washington D.C.’s National Airport and is featured in the Smithsonian Museum.

Ralph was an engaging man with a kind smile. Always a quick study, he was never short of interesting stories about his travels around the world. Ralph loved being a pilot, boating in the San Juan’s and he relished his role as “Camp Cook” while on hunting trips with Bob, his son in law.

Ralph T. Gray passed away 20 May 2005 in Puyallup Washington, after a long battle with cancer. His ashes will be laid to rest in Kona, Hawaii, a place that he always fond of.
Bob Carroll can be contacted at:

Crew 4 Main Page
60th Squadron Crew Index
Source: Bob Carroll, Son In-law; GO-95