Skip to main content

Leon W. Gray

Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame
Enshrined 1993

Leon Gray was born in Lockney, Texas, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1938 after graduating from the University of Arizona. During World War II he commanded the 325th Fighter Wing. He served over two years in the European Theater, flying 420 combat hours in various types of fighters and fighter/bombers. He received numerous decorations for bravery in combat, including the coveted Distinguished Service Cross for his “extraordinary heroism” piloting an unarmed P-38 (F-5) on critical photo reconnaissance missions against the enemy.

After the war, in both 1946 and 1947, he won the jet division of the famed Bendix Trophy Race, flying America’s first operational jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80. In 1959 his USAF team, flying supersonic F-104s, won the prestigious William Tell missile competition. He is also credited with refining jet training methods while commanding units at various USAF bases, including Williams, Luke, and Davis-Monthan in Arizona. Leon Gray retired a colonel in 1967.