Robert Manning Gray, 0-403862, Captain
Pilot Crew 3
Completed two years of college. Enlisted as Flying Cadet on June 29, 1940 at Dallas, Texas. Graduated with rating of Pilot and commissioned as Second Lieutenant at Kelly Field, Texas on February 8, 1941. Assigned 34th Bomb Squadron and then 95th Bomb Squadron of 17th Bomb Group at McChord Field, Washington. Remained in China-Burma-India Theater after Tokyo Raid. Killed in action on October 18, 1942 while on combat mission near Assam India. Gray Air Force Base, Texas, named in his honor. Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Chinese Army, Navy, Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.
Born May 24, 1919, Killeen, Texas
Killed in action near Assum, India, October 18, 1942
Killeen City Cemetery
Originally interred at Barrackapore, India
Remains returned to Killeen for reburial in February 1951
Sixth Street renamed Gray Street
April 18th is “Bob Gray Day” for the duration of time by mayoral proclamation
VFW Post 9192 named in his honor, January 24, 1948
Robert Gray Air Force base and Later Robert Gray Army Airfield
named in his honor
Also see this set of images and comments by Bill Stafford
May 2, 1942
SUBJECT: Mission report on Project April 18, 1942
TO: Brigadier General J.H. Doolittle.
Type Ship: B-25-B (North American) #40-2270
Crew: Pilot -- 1st Lt. Robert M. Gray
Co-pilot -- 2nd Lt. Jack E. Manch
Nav. -- 2nd Lt. Charles V. Ozuk
Bomb. - Sgt. Aden E. Jones
Eng. Gun. -- Cpl. L.D. Factor
Orders: This mission was voluntary called from Lexington Field, Columbia, S.C. and then to Eglin Field, Florida, to start working and training. From Florida the group went to McClellan Field, Cal. for more supplies and maintenance. We continued to Alameda Naval Base and loaded the planes aboard the U.S.S. Hornet.
All navigation equipment was issued enroute.
Order were given for all army pilots to man their planes for take off. We were to report to Chuchow, China, as soon as possible if could not land our planes.
Time of Takeoff: 8:30 U.S.S. Hornet time.
Altitude desired: Bombing Alt.: 1500 ft.
Approach: Under 1500 ft.
Actual Alt: Bombing:1450
Approach: surface to 50 ft and 6500 over China.
Weather: Broken to clear to Tokyo
Clear and unlimited over Tokyo
Enroute to China: Broken to overcast
Over China: Overcast with rain.
Bombs: 3 - 500 . dem. -- 1 - 500 incendiary
Ammunition: 850 rounds 50
All ammunition loaded 2 tracers, 3 incendiary and 1 armor piercing.
Target: Steel mill, chemical factory, gas co, and thickly populated small factories district. Contacted A.A. but did not have range. Had right altitude -- also ground fire.
Pursuit Opposition: None.
Bombed Steel works but did not see the bombs hit. Felt the concussion. Second bomb made direct on gas company. Third bomb was a direct hit on the chemical works and setting fire to the whole works. Fourth scattered incendiary over the correct area but did not stay to see if it started fires. machine gunned barracks and men on the way out.
Arrival in China:
Giving orders thirty (30) minutes before time to bail out all personnel were in chutes. Gave an order fifteen (15) minutes before time again to make sure. When all personnel was gone, I switched on AFCE and jumped (6200 ft). I landed on summit of a mountain and remained there the remainder of the night. The next morning I looked for other personnel but could not find them. Walked all day and came to village where I stayed that night. Was directed in wrong direction for six miles and ended up where I started from that morning. Sgt. Aden Jones joined me there that night and we rode in chairs the next day to river side. Stayed there all night and until 16:30 o'clock the next day waiting on Lt. Jack Manch. On Lt. Manch arrival we loaded a small boat and traveled until night. Traveled by boat all the next day and part of the night arriving in Chuchow. Stayed two days in Chuchow. Went by train and bus to Hangyen which took four days. Took plane from Hangyen to Chunking.
ROBERT M. GRAY
1st Lt., A.C.
The following is taken from a Newspaper Article in the Killeen Daily Herald by Elke Hutto on November 9, 1998 - http://home.hot.rr.com/vfwpost9192/gray.htm
“Whiskey Pete” was a name that held special significance for Robert M. Gray. He gave the name to his pony he rode through the streets of Killeen when he was a little boy. Years. Later the name identified the B-25 bomber he flew in the famed Doolittle raid over Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
The raid is what people in Killeen talked about when it became public knowledge in May that year.
Proud of the city’s son, the Killen city government promptly named the street that ran north and south in front of his father’s hardware store after him.
Mayor R.T. Polk declared April 18 as “Bob Gray Day” for the duration of time. Later the military’s airport at West fort Hood was named after him.
“He was a fun-loving youngster who pestered the life out of everyone,” Gra’Delle Duncan wrote about Gray in her book, “Killeen: Tale of two Cities.”
Gray was born May24, 1919 grew up in Killeen and graduated from high school here. He was a star football player on the Kangaroo football team.
He attended Tarleton College in Stephenville and entered Texas A&M University.
At Tarleton he started his flying career and earned a private pilot’s license. He severed in the reserve Officer Training Corps and entered The Army Air Corps in 1940.
He received his wings in 1941 and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Randolph Field in San Antonia.
Gray mastered the art of flying bombers at Tacoma, Wash. After being promoted to first lieutenant, he was selected for the raid on Tokyo.
He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his participation in the raid and was recognized by the Chinese government, which presented him its Medal of Honor and a letter of commendation and admiration from Madam Chiang Kai-Shek.
Gray was promoted to captain after the raid.
Nine Texans were among the attack team under the command of Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle. Accounts put the number in the raid at 79 or 80.
The raid – dubbed in the local paper as “Bob Gray calls on the Mikado” – was launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet under the command of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey.
Gray’s plane was third off the carrier, and he and his crew delivered four 500-pound bombs over Tokyo.
According to one account, Gray’s bomber ran out of fuel and he crashed in China.
While the Japanese claimed they had hit one of the bombers that crashed, Doolittle denied it.
“They may have painted up one of their own to look like ours, or they may have gotten an American plane from somewhere else, but not from us, “ he was quoted as saying.
An account in the Killeen Daily Herald of May 22, 1942, said the planes approached Japan at rooftop height, making hem vulnerable to machine-gun fire but posing difficult targets for anti-aircraft guns.
Each of the planes had assigned targets. As they approached their targets, the planes climbed to an altitude of 1,500 feet.
The bombing started at a point just north of Tokyo and went south for 40 miles.
The targets were military and industrial installations. Doolittle during a news conference emphasized that no civilian targets were attacked.
The bombs found and destroyed the Mitsubishi aircraft factory near Nagoya. In addition, industrial sites, shipyards, docks, fuel storage points and ammunition dumps at Yokesuke, Kena Gawa, Kobe and Osaka were targeted.
The raid caught Hollywood’s attention and Robert Mitchum wound up playing Gray in the movie “30 Seconds over Tokyo.”
After the raid, Gray was assigned to New Delhi, India. He died near Assam, India, while flying a combat mission six months to the day after the raid on Tokyo.
His body wasn’t returned to Killeen until Feb. 11, 1951.
“Bob Gray is dead but his spirit will dwell forever as an inspiration to all of us to make a greater effort for victory in a cause for which he so cheerfully, and gallantly laid down his life,” The Killeen Reporter wrote Oct. 30, 1942.
The following information is from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/robert-gray.htm
Robert Gray Army Airfield
Fort Hood (Killeen), Texas, USA
Robert Gray Army Airfield at Fort Hood should not confused with Gray Army Airfield at Fort Lewis. Fort Hood is served by Robert Gray Army Airfield and Hood Army Airfield (RGAAF and HAAF). Both Robert Gray and Hood Army airfields are restricted areas for security reasons. There are two paved, non-instrumented airstrips used for training at North Fort Hood. Longhorn Strip is 3,350 feet in length and is primarily for nonstandard (emergency) maneuver training. Both strips (Longhorn and Shorthorn) primarily serve as summer training sites for National Guard and Reserve aviation units.
Robert Gray Army Airfield is located at West Fort Hood, southwest of the main post, approximately eight miles from main Fort Hood and 10 miles from Killeen. The airfield is named in honor of Captain Robert M. Gray, United States Army Air Corps and a Killeen native. Capt. Gray, and Sgt. George Larkin, for who the airfield Deployment Terminal is named, were members of the famous “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo in April 1942. They were both subsequently killed when their B-25 crashed in Burma in October 1942.
RGAAF is a fully instrumented airfield tasked with the primary mission of providing training and deployment of III Corps and Fort Hood personnel and equipment. The airfield is capable of handling the world’s largest military and civilian aircraft, covering approximately 3,800 acres within the fenced area. The airfield has one 10,000’ x 200’ runway with an equal length parallel and four connecting taxiways to the west side and a 2,500’ parallel and two connecting taxiways to the east. The Larkin Terminal, Aerial Port of Embarkation (APOE) was dedicated July 1986. This modern deployment facility provides timely processing and seating for more than 400 personnel and includes administration and processing stations for both Army and Air Force operations.
Robert Gray AAF is located within Houston Center, however, the tie-in ATC Center is Fort Worth Center. The installation ATC Radar Approach Control (ARAC) is also located on the airfield, providing air traffic control services for Robert Gray AAF, Hood AAF, civilian facilities and assigned airspace.
Tenant aviation units at Robert Gray AAF include the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, Texas Flight Detachment and the 1st Cavalry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade. Airfield operations and services include the Base Flight Operations, Operation Support Airlift (OSA) Military Flight scheduling office, USAF Weather Operations, Alert/Services and Airfield Security Operations. Each of these sections are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The City of Killeen proposed moving air carrier operations from Killeen Airport to Fort Hood's Robert Gray Army Airfield. A Joint-Use Agreement with the Army will create a shared facility - in effect - a major new regional airport, accommodating both military and civilian air traffic. The existing Killeen Airport will remain after the air carriers move to the joint-use facility and will serve light private and business aircraft. Central Texas College also has a Career Pilot Training Program utilizing two large hangars and almost two dozen aircraft. The construction and improvements required for a project of this magnitude will provide long term benefits for the entire central Texas region. Access to a longer runway and full air traffic control services would allow for larger turbo prop and jet aircraft. Expanded accommodation for future air carriers and passenger growth would include a new terminal building, aircraft parking apron, east parallel taxiway, fueling facilities, and vehicle parking.
The March 2000 House passage of a federal aviation bill put at Robert Gray Army Airfield in a prime position to secure federal funding and get the joint-use airport off the ground. Robert Gray Airfield received a major boost with passage of the Aviation Investment and Reform for the 21st Century Act (AIR-21). The measure increased the amount of funding and the number of available slots from 12 to 15 for the Military Airport Program (MAP). The MAP program provides an additional source of funding for airport projects that use either closed military bases or joint-use facilities such as the Robert Gray Army Airfield/ City of Killeen project.
On January 8, 2001 the U. S. DOT's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected Robert Gray Army Airfield in Killeen, Texas; March Inland Port, Riverside, California; and Mather Airport, Sacramento, California, to participate in the Military Airport Program (MAP). MAP, a set-aside of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), provides financial assistance to the civilian sponsor of military airfields being converted to, or that have been converted to, civilian or joint-use airfields. The selections were made pursuit to authority granted in the Wendell H. Ford Aviation and Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) which increased the total number of airports to participate in the MAP from 12 to 15, including one general aviation airport authorized to receive MAP funding.
Converting military airfields to civilian use enhances airport system capacity and reduces flight delays. The MAP enhances airport system capacity by providing financial support for the development of civilian aviation facilities at joint-use and former military airfields in or near major metropolitan areas. MAP funds facilitate the addition of civilian airport capacity at relatively low cost. MAP funds may be used for projects not generally funded by AIP that aid in the conversion process for civilian use such as building or rehabilitating parking lots, fuel farms, hangars, utility systems, roads and cargo buildings.
Robert Gray AAF, a joint-use airport, will provide a larger airport for regional jets serving the Killeen, Temple and Fort Hood areas of Texas with a 10,000-foot runway.
Gray AFB was established to support Killeen Base. Killeen Base, still used by the Army for munitions storage, was one of the early (1948-1969) U.S. National Stockpile Sites for storing nuclear weapons. This site, also known as "Baker" held both Army and USAF special weapons.
In early 2001 the FAA selected three military airports for conversion to civil-only or joint-use status as part of a program designed to increase system capacity and reduce air traffic control delays. The airports are Gray Army Airfield in Killeen, TX; March Inland Port, Riverside, CA; and Mather Airport near Sacramento, CA. All will receive an unspecified level of federal funding under the FAA's Military Airport Program (MAP). The selections stemmed from the AIR-21 legislation signed into law in early 2000, which increased the total number of airports eligible for federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding from 12 to 15. Robert Gray AAF has a 10,000-foot runway which the FAA sees as a possible hub for Atlantic Southeast Airlines regional jets serving the Fort Hood/ Killeen area.
Planned for the Year 2004 is the joint military and civilian use of Robert Gray Army Airfield, elevating local air transportation to a regional status. Located just four miles east of Copperas Cove, the airport will house a 70,000 square foot terminal to complement the 10,000-foot runway capable of landing a Boeing 747. The target date for opening the airport is 2003. Central Texas is counting on the new airport to be an economic development tool in recruiting new businesses. The estimated annual impact of the regional airport will include 824 permanent jobs, $48 million in increased gross product, $30 million in increased personal income, and $13 million annually in increased retail sales.