0

Loganville High grad killed in Afghanistan

Maj. Walter "David" Gray didn't want people to worry about him, even after he joined the Air Force -- he cared more about them than himself.

There wasn't a person he didn't like.

"He was just real positive, always smiled. And was selfless," older brother Ronnie told the Daily Post on Friday. "When you would speak to him he was more concerned about your family."

Gray, 38 years old and a 1992 graduate of Loganville High School, was killed Wednesday in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, where insurgents detonated suicide vests to claim the lives of three service members and a civilian.

He leaves behind three children -- Nyah, 8, Garrett, 5, and Ava, 4 -- and wife Heather, who started a week of now-bittersweet milestones with her own birthday Friday. The couple's wedding anniversary is Monday. Maj. Gray's 39th birthday would have been on Aug. 15.

"It's been pretty devastating to say the least," Ronnie Gray said. "It's one of those things that you don't want to believe it's happened. I think I'm still kind of in disbelief. And I just want it to be a bad dream."

Eleven months his brother's elder, Ronnie Gray said he and David grew up treated like twins, "playing Army games and running around acting like fools" while wearing the same clothes and celebrating birthdays together. Their family home was technically in Conyers, but the two boys attended Loganville High School, located just outside Gwinnett County lines.

David Gray said his ultimate goal was to become an officer in the Air Force, and he did that.

He was commissioned in October 1997 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps after serving as an enlisted airman. He was an air liaison officer and flight commander for the Fort Carson, Colo. based 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, which is part of the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing headquartered at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta.

Gray was one of the Air Force's first career air liaison officers.

"Maj. Gray's ultimate sacrifice is a tragic loss for the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing family," Col. Samuel Milam, wing commander, said in a written statement. "He was a tremendous officer and leader. Our most heartfelt sympathies are with the Gray family and the Airmen of the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron during this difficult time."

The Defense Department identified the other two troops killed alongside Gray as Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y., and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo.