PFC Harry C. Gray
54th Infantry Battalion, 10th Armored Division, 3rd Army
KIA 3/20/45, Landau, Germany,
near the Saar-Moselle Triangle
-- Elizabeth (Betty) Gray Hendricks --
My Daddy was born in Scranton, PA, on March 20, 1914 and his sister, Elizabeth Bixler Gray was born
April 29,1915, in Boston, MA. Their parents were Harry C. Gray and Ethel Wheeler Lloyd Gray.
I do not know how my daddy got to Florida. However, at 17 years of age, he married my mother, Gertrude
Anna Sprunk. She was just 15 years old when I was born on January 29, l932. And on April 4, 1933 my
brother, Harry C. Gray, III (the 3rd) was born. Both my brother and I were born in St. Petersburg, Florida.
My parents struggled through the depression, but they were like sweethearts up until his death.
He joined the City Fire Department, as a fire fighter. As a fire fighter he worked 24 hours on duty and
24 hours off duty. Because he was an avid swimmer, he trained to be a City Life Guard and on his off duty
hours, he was a Life Guard at the Spa Beach, in St. Petersburg.
I would accompany him on my days off from summer school. We never did own a car, so he and I would ride the
trolley car to the beach. Needless to say, he was tanned with black, wavy hair and a good build. I would
watch the ladies look at my Father. One day this lady was conversing with him, and I walked over to him and
said so proud, "Hi. He's my Daddy." (He was 29 years old.)
He was exempt from the draft because he was a fireman. However, he told my Mother, "I feel odd that there
are no young men on the streets." All were out to war, so he felt obligated to enlist at 30 years old. He
entered on July 7, l944. He took his training in Camp Wheeler, GA in the 2nd. Platoon, Co "C" 1st Bn under
the command of Lt. Larsen, Lt. Foss, 1st Sgt. Rochell and Sgt. Roberts.
He was a tail gunner in a tank with the 10th Armored "Tiger Division" of Gen. George Patton's Third Army.
He was home on furlough in December, before sailing in January from the States to Germany. February,1945,
the Division helped to clear the Saar-Moselle Triangle. They then swung north, and captured the historic city of Trier on March 2, after
which on the 20th of March, (which was his 32nd birthday), he was killed in action, as they took over Landau.
It was a sad day when the telegram arrived telling us of his death. My Mother left with two children.
She had never worked. Just prior to his death, she worked in a plant making bullets. My Mother exhibited
remarkable strength. From the day we learned of my Father's death, there was little or no conversations.
I never asked my Mother why she did not bring my Father home to be with his family and many friends.
(I believe it could have been his Father that made that choice.)
One of his letters to my Mother, dated 8/31/44 (while in training) read, "Greetings and Congratulations on
your remarkable perseverence and patience and lovable manner in managing to put up with this old man for 13
years (to you) today. I am sorry I cannot be with you to celebrate the event, but I want you to know I love
you more all the time, Sweetheart, and we will make it up later for now and for the first hard years of
depression and misery we went through together. Won't we?"
I had the opportunity for one of my daughters, Pamela, and I to visit his Gravesite in the American Cemetery
in Luxembourgh City, Luxembourg. Visiting his grave in October, 2000 was one of the most
fullfilling and happiest days of my life. I feel now that my life has
made a complete circle.
He is resting with his fellow comrades who died in the greatest battle ever fought by the United States Army,
in the bloodiest war in history. There are 5,076 men who fought bravely for the peace of this country buried
in the cemetery with him, and just a few rows in front of him, is the burial site of General George Patton,
resting with his men.
The cemetery is absolutely breathtaking! Well manicured sites, and beautiful trees. Off to the left of his
resting place is a long fountain with bronze dolphins leaping (he loved the water), and surrounding rose gardens.
I feel comfortable with his resting place. I have many pictures of his site which will be shared with his
grandchildren and great grandchildren.
On a marble wall at the American Cemetery in Luxembourgh:
"I give unto them eternal life
and they shall never perish."
It is in the memory of our Dad that this Tribute has been made, and may he rest in Peace. Proudly your wife
and our Mother, Gertude (Kitty) Anna Gray (who passed away on January 20, 2002), your son, Harry C. Gray, III (Buddy),
me, your daughter, Elizabeth Ethel Gray Hendricks, and your sister Elizabeth Gray Sprunk, and all of your grandchildren
and great grandchildren. Hopefully, we will all meet again.
Love you, and there is hardly a day goes by that I don't wonder how things could have been.