Charleston Southern graduate killed in Afghanistan

jwilkinson@thestate.comAugust 10, 2012 

Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray and his wife, Heather.

SPECIAL TO THE STATE

Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, a 2001 graduate of Charleston Southern University, died Wednesday from injuries suffered during a suicide bomb attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

Gray, 38, was an air liaison officer and flight commander attached to Fort Carson, Colo., through the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, according to a public affairs officer at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“The Charleston Southern University family is grieving the loss of one of our own today,” President Jairy C. Hunter Jr. said in a news release. “Our prayers are with David’s family.”

Gray is a native of Conyers, Ga. He is survived by his wife, Heather, a 2002 graduate of Charleston Southern University, and three children.

Sixty-four members of the U.S. military with South Carolina ties have died in Iraq. Forty-one have died in Afghanistan. Gray is the fifth service member with South Carolina ties to have died in Afghanistan this year, including three member of the S.C. National Guard.

Among those killed this year:

• Spc. John David Meador II, 36, of Columbia, 1st Lt. Ryan Davis Rawl, 30, of Lexington and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bradford Thomas, 30, of Easley. All died June 20 when a suicide bomber attacked their patrol at a checkpoint in Khost. They were assigned to the S.C. National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company, Timmonsville.

• Army Pfc. Adam Ross, 19, of Lyman was shot and killed in an ambush while on foot patrol July 24 in Afghanistan. Ross, a member of the 173rd Airborne Infantry, was stationed in Vicenza, Italy, and had been in Afghanistan for less than three weeks when he was killed.

Gray was commissioned as an officer in October 1997. He was previously an enlisted airman and was one of the Air Force’s first career air liaison officers, according to a release.

Gray received a bachelor’s of technology degree from Charleston Southern, where he was a member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 772.

Also killed with Gray in Wednesday’s attack were Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, the senior enlisted soldier of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colo., and Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, according to the defense department.

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