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On February 4, 2010, three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Jim Gray lost his fight with the disease and passed away in Las Vegas, NV.
Jim was born on December 6, 1954 in Long Beach, CA. At eight years of age, he moved to Denver, Colorado. He was placed in Mount Saint Vincent Orphanage for boys where he grew up and lived for the next 10 years. The Nuns of Mount Saint Vincent raised and mentored Jim until he graduated from Holy Family High School in 1974, and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Like most young men of that age, Jim was searching. He knew he had great potential to become a success at hatever he decided to do with his life. The nuns of Mount Saint Vincent had provided Jim with the confidence he needed to be successful, but he was still looking for the means to realize it. The Navy was to become Jim's new home, his hipmates, and his new family. He completed boot camp in 1974 at RTC San Diego. It was while in boot camp that Jim first learned about UDT-SEAL Training. He knew the SEAL program would test him and after a short tour on board the USS Cleveland, Jim received orders to BUD/S training in Coronado, CA. In 1975 Jim graduated from BUD/S training with Class 84. He then received orders to SEAL Team One.
Jim was assigned to SEAL Team One, Delta platoon where he started operating with experienced Viet Nam War veterans. After four very successful years Jim had established a reputation as an operator and the guy you wanted to watch your back. Jim had found the life he had been searching for. He then transferred to the Naval Special Warfare Marine Mammal Program. He was assigned to the Sea Lion program Quick-Find. This program was developed to find test missiles that had been launched miles away from a U.S. Navy ship. Jim and his team would recover the missile and transport it back to the lab for evaluation. In a short amount of time Jim became a primary Animal Handler for the program. His talent in dealing with animals was quickly noticed and Jim became one of Quick-Find's best Sea Lion trainers. Jim's demeanor was also very well suited for instructing new personnel on the procedures for handling marine mammals. In 1982 Jim transferred back to SEAL Team One. His professional life had been dedicated to his country
culminating with his 22 years of naval service as a Chief Petty Officer.
His second tour with SEAL Team One started with an assignment to SPECOPS Hotel Platoon. He deployed to NSWU-1 in April 1983 as the platoon air department rep. He participated in cross-training exercises in Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines. At the completion of the deployment and his return to Coronado, Jim was then assigned to the SEAL Team One Air Department. During this time NSW underwent reorganization, which resulted in the creation of several new SEAL Teams. Jim was assigned to SEAL Team One's first ARG ALPHA Platoon. Jim deployed on board the USS Duluth (LPD-6) to WESTPAC in October 1984. His broad experience in the execution of both UDT and SEAL missions was put to the test and Jim never failed to demonstrate mastery of the subject. Not only a master of his trade, he was also a master of martial arts and shared his enthusiasm and knowledge by instructing platoon members in a variety of fighting styles while underway. Throughout his second tour with SEAL Team One, Jim proved himself to
be a valued resource and a gifted mentor. He was extremely knowledgeable and always found time to share his knowledge and experience with junior platoon members.
It would be fair to say that an average man would be content with the level of self-esteem, self-respect, self-confidence, achievement, reputation, prestige, competence and independence that Jim had earned for himself thus far in his career. But, Jim was not an average man. Although he had successfully pushed the limits of his own potential and accomplished things most people can only dream of, Jim was never one to rest on his laurels. So, what does one do when one has been successful and courageous enough to become one of the "toughest of the tough guys"? It was about this time, not long after the Iranian revolution and a failed hostage rescue attempt that a new team had formed, comprised of only the best men the Seal Teams had to offer. Jim took the opportunity to set himself apart from even the elite Navy SEALs, who were arguably the toughest special operators on the planet; an opportunity to volunteer and try out for an even more elite unit. An opportunity to test one's will and determination at the highest levels. In other words, a perfect challenge for Jim. He would volunteer for SEAL Team Six. Jim interviewed and was accepted in June of 1985 to SEAL Team Six. After 6 extremely difficult months in Green Team he was assigned to an assault team where he spent the next eight years eventually becoming a Master Blaster assigned to the Breaching Department.
Jim's final tour of active duty was at the Special Boat Unit in Vallejo, California. His professional life had been dedicated to his country with his 22 years of naval service. As a Chief Petty Officer SEAL Operator Jim obtained significant combat experience in Naval Special Warfare. During his illustrious naval career he was decorated with many citations and medals for his achievements.
For his family and those who truly knew Jim he will be loved and dearly missed forever. Jim is survived by his loving wife, Valerie and son, Jacob.
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