WILLIAM GRAY ROSS
Born on Oct. 11, 1945
From BIG ROCK, TENNESSEE
Casualty was on June 15, 1968
in QUANG NAM, SOUTH VIETNAM
57W - - Line 31
Gray Ross, USMC
Gray Ross served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, India
Company. He was Killed In Action during Operation MAMELUKE THRUST. His
name stands proudly on the India 3/5 Wall of
Honor. Semper fi, Brother Marine. We will never forget.
Operation MAMELUKE THRUST
is another brother that will not be forgotten by his brothers of India
Company. I as company radioman had talked to you many times, Sir. You
are a dear friend and brother of mine. Semper Fi! Marine. Guard those
gates of heaven well for some day we will be together again. Terrapin
Gray Ross at TBS Quantico, VA
Right: Gray at home before leaving for Vietnam
Picture Gray sent home to his Mother
(Pictures courtesy of John Gundersen)
Firing a .50 caliber machine gun at Phu Gia Pass about 25 miles north
and his radioman Albert Petersen
Picture courtesy of John Gundersen
Petersen was KIA 21 May 68 along with 3 other Marines who were running
patrol at the Thua Lu Bridge. John Gundersen (I/3/5) was wounded along
with 9 other Marines.
Peterson Memorial page
saved my life
owe my life to Lt. Ross, literally. His leadership was one way, but
sometime in about May of '68, we were on an operation in the same area
where he died. It must have been 115 degrees in the shade. If you could
find shade. The humidity was about 95 percent. I started getting really
fuzzy in the head. We stopped for a 5 min. rest, and I didn't know where
I was, or what I was doing. I laid down on my back, and was looking
up at the sun. I felt so weak, and my face was twitching. Nothing made
any sense. The platoon got up and moved out. I remained on my back,
trying to figure out why I felt so funny.
I guess I was there for 5 minutes or so, and the platoon had gone on
for some distance. Lt. Ross noticed that his platoon was short someone,
and came back personally and found me laying there. I remember seeing
his face coming between me and the sun. He smiled at me with that chiseled
face of his and asked if I was coming with the rest of the platoon,
or would I rather take a nap. It took some help from him, and all the
strength I could muster up to get up and move.
I think that if he hadn't come back for me, I would have died from the
sun, or been taken by the VC. Most officers didn't take their men to
heart, as it supposedly inhibits their leadership ability, but it didn't
seem to keep him from being an excellent leader. Probably my favorite
in all the Corps. As it was, I had heat stroke, and was medivaced to
DaNang for treatment. I was there about 2 days, and sent back to the
The day Lt. Ross died, I was in the hospital at Cam Rahn Bay. I was
there for 2 weeks. One of the other men was sent there for wounds, and
told me about that day. I was really depressed. You might say my world
back at that day, whether it was from the heat or true, I can't imagine
the platoon walking off and leaving me there, but that is the way it
seemed to me at the time. I will always remember Lt. Ross as the picture
postcard Marine. I will never forget him. I made a trip to see his family
in Bumpus Mills on the Tennessee, Kentucky border in 1986. They are
such sweet people. I can see more now why the Lt. was the kind of man
he was. ~John Gundersen (Gunny)
Ross (right) with India Company 3/5 Marines
following is a poem Gray sent home to his family from Vietnam
Here I am, across the sea,
as far away as I'll ever be.
the reason for this I need not ask why,
For I am serving my country as every G.I. (Marine).
I remember the night, as I left the world,
When I departed my family, and a wonderful girl.
gazed upon their faces, there lay a tear,
For this is now a memory, till I have faithfully served my year
boarded my flight, and left the ground.
With a one-way ticket; Vietnam bound.
a matter if time, I began to fly,
While meditating of life, as I looked toward the sky.
so many hours, I was able to see,
For within my path, lay my destiny.
I walked off the plane, I looked around,
And the first thing to notice, no grass on the ground.
continued to walk, for I have begun my tour,
While looking at the faces of people so poor.
I began to realize, and well understand,
Why these creatures of God need a guiding hand.
often walk the streets of Qui Nhon,
Of sorrowed faces, which I look upon,
from what I have seen, I can gracefully say,
"For the life I was given, I thank God each day."
am a soldier, (Marine), but to them a king,
For they know I'm here for only one thing.
do their fighting, through the guidance of thee,
And within this time, keep my land free.
many mountains of beauty and size.
But within their shadows the enemy lies.
now they await the darkness of night,
As the battle cries, "For freedom we fight."
a matter of days my time will come,
When I'll be given the word to turn in my gun.
then I will know that I have served my year,
As I begin to shout, "my replacement is here"
I have served in this war of strife,
I'll be going home to began a new life.
all the time I will pray for these men,
So that they, too, will be a civilian again.
my lionheart-- always a hero
I was only a girlfriend,
but while I knew you, you were a gentleman in all scores. I'm very proud
I knew you and know you went to fight a war no one wanted to be in,
but you did your best. I loved you then ,and still have a special place
in my heart. You asked me not to wait, for you knew what was to be,
you sacrificed it all. Thanks for a love that has lasted forever. Still
in my heart, Betty Bowen (Gentry)
Tribute to Gray Ross
Bowen and 2Lt. Ross's sister, Datha Corbett
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Reunion
and 2Lt. Ross's sister, Datha Corbett visited with India 3/5 Marines
who served with 2Lt. Ross
Betty and Datha: Ted Duckworth, Eddie Garcia, Kay Groves, John Gunderson,
Mark Rader, Larry Vaught.