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Former Ft. Gordon commander dies in wreck

Posted: November 27, 2011 - 1:04am

Twitter @ColumbiaCounty

Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray, a former Fort Gordon commander and chief of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, died Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident outside Millen, Ga.

As Fort Gordon’s first black commander, Gray diversified leadership at a time when the black population was increasing in Augusta, former Mayor Bob Young said.

Gray commanded the Army post from May to July 1990 and August 1991 to July 1994. He retired from the Army in 1997 with more than 31 years of service.

In recent years, Gray served as chairman of the Columbia County Democratic Party.

Jenkins County Coroner Henry Young said Gray was driving a pickup on the Georgia Highway 21 bypass when his vehicle collided with an 18-wheel tractor-trailer at about 6:30 a.m.

Later, Georgia State Patrol Senior Trooper Bruce Rowell said Gray ran a stop sign.

Gray was remembered Wednes­day as a strong leader who remained active in community affairs after his retirement.

“He understood the importance of the ties of the military post and the city. He did everything he could to strengthen it,” Bob Young said. “His door was always open to us. He was a very engaged member of our community.

Gray oversaw Fort Gor­don’s expansion after the Per­sian Gulf War when three units were moved to the base during the nation’s Base Realignment and Closure initiatives.

He was also instrumental in initiating changes to technology and enhanced technical training used by the Signal Center, according to military officials.

Pat Blanchard served as the chairman of the Au­gusta Metro Chamber of Com­merce’s Military Affairs Committee during Gray’s command.

“I was always very impressed with him. He was a capable leader and a great man. I was deeply saddened by the news today,” said Blanchard.

“He had a lot of leadership skills and, as they say in the military, he was a great soldier,” he said.

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