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Army ROTC honors Paul Gray

Paul and Priscilla Gray on Killian Court on June 10, 1954, the day he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Paul and Priscilla Gray on Killian Court on June 10, 1954, the day he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Professor Paul E. Gray, a product of MIT's ROTC program who served two years on active duty, has been inducted into the Army ROTC Hall of Fame at MIT.

Military service opened horizons that Gray had not previously considered.

"When I left MIT after five years of full-time study, I had no intention of returning," said Gray, who took a full-time job in New Jersey after earning the S.B. in 1954 and the S.M. in 1955. A short time later, he went on active duty as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, instructing officers and enlisted men at Fort Devens, Mass., on the use and maintenance of sophisticated communications equipment. "Through the teaching experience, I realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did," he said. "That led me back to MIT."

Discharged as a first lieutenant in 1957, he returned to campus as an instructor in electrical engineering. Gray received the Sc.D. in 1960 and became a full professor in 1967. Thirty years later, he stepped down as chair of the MIT Corporation and returned to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, teaching undergraduates.

As chancellor and president during the 1970s and 1980s, Gray supported ROTC when there were strong anti-military sentiments on campus. "I believe the country is well served by having a military not solely led by graduates of West Point and the military academies," he said. "The civilian soldier, if you will, learns to better understand the role the military plays in a free nation."

Gray and his wife, Priscilla, thrived in the close-knit military community; they still have close friends from their days at Fort Devens. "There were 25 other brand-new second lieutenants, most of them freshly married," he said. "A great deal of bonding occurred."

An account of Gray's career, "A Legacy of Service" by Katerina Spyropoulou, a graduate student in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, was distributed at the induction celebration on April 25, the day of the ROTC's annual pass-in-review ceremonies. Spyropoulou wrote the portfolio for 15.305 (Leadership and Management) taught at the Sloan School by ROTC faculty. She is not a member of ROTC.

Gray is the third MIT graduate to be inducted in the Hall. Retired Army Colonels Charles C. Smith (Class of 1927), who died in 1980, and William J. Cavanaugh (Class of 1951) were selected last year.

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