MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- It has been roughly three-and-a-half years since coalition forces began their initial push to Baghdad, Iraq, initiating the Global War on Terrorism. Since then, all have given some, and some have given all in terms of self sacrifice. As of Columbus Day, 2,745 service members have given all. 2,192 of those service members were killed in action. One Marine out of that number was Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray, a rifleman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, who was killed in action during combat operations in Iraq.
Gray was killed by enemy machinegun fire April 11, 2004, Easter Sunday, in Fallujah, Iraq. A year-and-a-half later, the life of Gray was remembered, honored and dedicated at the Combat Center’s Parade Field Oct. 6.
A memorial was also unveiled at the dedication and naming of the field.
Gray’s former platoon members, battalion commander and friends joined together to honor the dedication ceremony held between the commanding general’s building and the Combat Center’s main flag pole.
Combat Center commanding general, Brig. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, Gray’s former battalion commander, Col. Bryan P. McCoy; and his spotter on the day he gave up his life, Cpl. Ward A. Stone, christened the field by unveiling a black monolith engraved with Gray’s face, name and Bronze Star Medal citation.
“Today we are here to confer unto this contented field a name, and by doing so, bestow from this day on, a visible memory of a hero’s actions which we, today’s Marines, choose that our future generations should remember, evoke and, by his example, emulate," addressed the general to all who attended. "Torrey’s name and the memory of the deeds he performed will from this day on remain an inspiration to Marines current, unknown and yet unborn who are the Marine Corps’ future."
Gray, an Indianapolis native, was 19 years old when he was killed. He was serving as a fire team leader with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, 3/4, in a town north of Fallujah, during his final operation.
During a sweep through the town, his platoon found a large weapons cache in a building. The platoon met with a Combined Anti-Armor Team from the battalion’s Weapons Company and established a look-out around the building, maintaining security around the Marines and the suspects they detained. Gray was tasked as a guardian angel, providing watch over the security element of their area in the top floor of a nearby tower. He directed, then Pfc. Stone to serve as his spotter.
According to the summary of action for his Bronze Star, later in the day three enemy machine gun positions directed fire towards his platoon. Gray returned fire, and ordered Stone to contact the headquarters element of his unit, report the situation and get ready to evacuate the building.
After doing so, Stone began to climb down a ladder from the tower and was struck in the chest and arm by enemy fire. Ignoring the enemy machine guns, Gray immediately moved to aid his wounded comrade. He pulled Stone back onto the tower platform and called his unit’s headquarters element informing them of the casualty.
Gray instructed Stone to stay down because the enemy fire presented a greater threat to his life than his wounds.
Without regard for his own safety, Gray laid on top of Stone, using his own body to provide cover for his fellow Marine. The remainder of 2nd Platoon maneuvered to destroy the enemy threats while Gray provided cover fire from his position above. He was struck and fatally wounded as he was giving a situation report to his platoon commander over the radio.
Before succumbing to his wounds, Gray positioned himself so his own body would be used as cover for his wounded comrade.
Gray was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for his valor that day.
“A Marine willingly gave his life for a brother, and we are awed at the commitment and bravery captured in the words of that citation," addressed McCoy to guests at the ceremony. "It tells a story of sacrifice and the love Torrey felt for his brothers. What it does not tell is the love and sense of loss we all felt at his death.
Today, in his memory, we rededicate ourselves to living our lives the best we can, and to carry forward the memories of our comrades that gave the last full measure – may they never be forgotten," added the Norman, Okla., native.
Because of Gray’s bravery and initiative, Cpl. Stone is able to tell the story of a heroic Marine he knew very well.
"We knew each other for only about a year, but we were good buddies," he said. Stone is an Alta Ville, Calif., native. "He was a great leader. He was hard on me but for good reasons. He taught me a lot out there. It was his second deployment and my first, so I learned everything from him. At the same time he talked to us a lot. I always stuck by him. He read me letters from his girlfriend. He was a mentor to me."
To Gray’s other platoon members who attended the ceremony, the naming of the field means more than most think, said Sgt. Sam Minor, an instructor with the Urban Warfare Training Center aboard the Combat Center’s training area.
This is beyond medals," said the Traverse City, Mich., native. "This is dedicating land space. It’s huge. There’s only one general’s lawn on the Combat Center, and this is it. I feel extremely proud to have known him."
The day was bittersweet, said McCoy. But the name Lance Cpl. Gray and his story will always live on.
"God bless you Torrey Gray," concluded McCoy. "You may have fallen, but you are never forgotten, brother."