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1 LT William J. Gray

  • Branch: Army
  • Hometown/City: Kirkland, WA
  • Date of Birth: 10-27-1923
  • Date of Death: 04-16-1945
  • Conflict: WWII
  • Unit:
  • Port/Base:

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  • 1st Lt. William "Bill" James Gray, Jr., 21, was killed in action at 1:00 PM on April 16, 1945, while serving his country in Lindau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany.

    Bill was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 27, 1923. He graduated in 1940 at the age of 16 from Franklin High School at the top of his class. He then attended the University of Washington before entering Aviation Cadet Training.

    Like many young men and women of his generation, Bill jumped to defend our country, enlisting along with his good buddy and future brother-in-law, James I. Louvier. In September of 1942, he joined the US Army Air Forces, and was commissioned in March of 1944.

    Bill fought in the European Theater of Operations, seeing action during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He piloted a single seat Republic P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter-Bomber as part of the 391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group of the Ninth Air Force and was a recipient of the following: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Numeral 6 Device, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and Purple Heart.

    Bill died just three weeks prior to the end of the WWII conflict. While strafing a truck, his aircraft sustained damage and crashed, killing him upon impact. In October of 1948, the crash site was located, but search of the area was not possible due to Soviet Army occupation. Sixty-four years later, in July of 2012, another investigation took place. As a result of this search, which took place from April 10-25 of 2016, the crash site was excavated, and Bill's remains were found. DNA samples were taken from Bill and surviving family members to confirm his identity. Now, seventy-two years later, following the crash, he will finally be laid to rest.

    He was lovingly remembered by his parents, William J. Gray, Sr. and Elizabeth (Cooper) Gray; his three sisters, E. Jeanne Louvier, Donna Schaller, and Diane Clawson; brother, Dean Gray; his grandmother, Elsie J. Cooper; and numerous aunts and uncles.

    A graveside service will be held on Friday, July 14, 2017, at 2:30 at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA, with the Rev. Tom Bradshaw officiating.

    Full military honors and a flyover by the squadron he once flew with have been planned in his remembrance.

    The Seattle Times ,
  • World War II pilot's remains found in tree, return for burial 72 years later.

    For more than 70 years a tree protected the remains of a World War II fighter pilot from Washington state whose plane crashed in Germany in 1945.

    The remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William Gray of Kirkland were returned to his family Friday for a burial at Tahoma National Cemetery with full military honors.

    The 21-year-old Gray was on a dive-bombing mission on April 16, 1945, when his single-seat P-47D aircraft clipped a tree and crashed.

    The Defense POW/MIA said investigators recovered Gray's remains last year.

    "The bones they found were embedded in the tree," Gray's niece Jan Bradshaw told Q13 Fox.

    Her brother Doug Louvier added, "It grew over his remains and really protected and marked the spot."

    Gray was buried side-by-side with his best friend—Bradshaw and Louvier's father.

    Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Jim Louvier returned home from the war and was 89 when he died in 2010.

    As they went off to the war together after enlisting, Louvier made a pact with his buddy. They each promised to take care of the other’s family if anything happened to either one of them.

    Bradshaw told the station that her father kept his word. He married Gray's younger sister.

    "I know he loved her dearly and committed to her for 64 years before he died," she said of her father.

    Louvier was cremated after he died but his children didn't know what to do with the ashes—until Friday.

    "We couldn't decide what to do and now we know why," Bradshaw said.

    FOX News, FoxNews.com ,
  • 180406213 1501770307

    Organization,
  • Remains of WWII fighter pilot who died during a 1945 mission over German are found embedded in the roots of tree and returned to his family more than 70 years later.

    The family of a WWII fighter pilot who crashed and died during a 1945 mission in Germany had to make peace with the fact that his body was never recovered.

    But more than 70 years later, investigators discovered William J. Gray Jr.'s remains embedded in the roots of a tree in Lindau, a small town near the southeast border of Germany, FOX reported.

    On Wednesday, his bones were flown back to Seattle, Washington, and the first lieutenant was buried next to his best friend Jim Louvier, who returned home from the war and fulfilled his promise to take care of Gray's family.

    Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William J. Gray Jr. was just 21 when he died carrying out a dive-bombing mission on April 16, 1945. His plane clipped a tree and crashed. More than 70 years later, investigators on another recovery mission found Gray's bones embedded at the root of a tree in Lindau, Germany.

    The best friends enlisted in the US Air Force together and promised to take care of the other's family if either of them failed to make it home.

    Gray, who had already completed more than 68 missions, was carrying out another bombing on April 16, 1945, when his plane clipped a tree and crashed.

    His family members mourned their loss and treasured the letters he wrote in lieu of his body, which was thought to be lost forever.

    But investigators who were searching Lindau on another recovery mission found Gray's bones last year, and advances in DNA testing allowed authorities to match them to his sisters.

    Gray's nephew Doug Louvier choked back tears when he told FOX the tree 'grew over his remains and really protected and marked the spot.'

    Daily Mail (UK),
  • For more than 70 years a tree protected the remains of a World War II fighter pilot from Washington state whose plane crashed in Germany in 1945.

    The remains of Army Air Forces 1st Lt. William Gray of Kirkland were returned to his family Friday for a burial at Tahoma National Cemetery with full military honors.

    The 21-year-old Gray was on a dive-bombing mission on April 16, 1945, when his single-seat P-47D aircraft clipped a tree and crashed in Lindau.

    The Defense POW/MIA said investigators recovered Gray’s remains last year. Two people who saw Gray’s plane go down told the investigators where to look, Q13 Fox reported Friday. The investigators were in Lindau on another recovery mission.

    “The bones they found were embedded in the tree,” Gray’s niece Jan Bradshaw told the station.

    Her brother Doug Louvier added, “It grew over his remains and really protected and marked the spot.”

    Gray was buried side-by-side with his best friend—Bradshaw and Louvier’s father.

    Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Jim Louvier returned home from the war and was 89 when he died in 2010.

    As they went off to the war together after enlisting, Louvier made a pact with his buddy. They each promised to take care of the other’s family if anything happened to either one of them.

    Bradshaw told the station that her father kept his word. He married Gray's younger sister, her mother.

    “I know he loved her dearly and committed to her for 64 years before he died,” she said of her father.

    Louvier was cremated after he died but his children didn’t know what do with the ashes—until Friday.

    “We couldn’t decide what to do and now we know why,” Bradshaw said.

    FOX News,