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Dr. John Javan Gray, of San Diego, California, was born on March 21, 1949, in Harvey, Illinois. Dr. Gray enlisted in the United States Army in 1967 after graduating from Samuel F.B. Morse High School in that same year. During his enlistment, he served as a helicopter mechanic/crew chief during three tours of duty in the Vietnam War. John had a nine-month break in service where he returned to San Diego to attend San Diego City College, where he met and later married the former Althea Mains; to that union were born three sons (Black Diamonds) Johnny, Jr., Mark, and Chris. During his enlistment, John's most notable assignment was to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), where he was promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-6).
Dr. Gray returned to the States and became a Drill Instructor. Determined to finish his degree in general studies, he attended Monterey Peninsula Junior College. Upon graduation, John received acceptance to the Army Officer Candidate School. After graduation, John was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Transportation Corps and assigned to Fort Eustis, Virginia, finishing his degree in Personnel Administration from Saint Leo College. His duties were Junior Officer Instructor, Marine Terminal Operations Officer, Medium Boat Maintenance Officer, Heavy Truck Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander.
John attended Flight School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and was qualified to fly the UH1-H (HUEY), the AH-1G (COBRA), and the OH-58 (OBSERVATION) helicopters. John had many assignments throughout the United States and South Korea as an Aviation Maintenance Officer; his last was with a VIP Flight Detachment (White Tops) at Fort Ord, California. While there, he completed the master's degree program, graduating from Golden Gate University with a Master's in Public Personnel Administration. He fondly remembers flying to Texas to turn in an OH-58 and flying to San Francisco International Airport to pick up then-Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. Dr. Gray retired from Fort Ord and the United States Army after serving a total of twenty-two years as a Captain, having sustained the highest operational ready rate the unit had ever experienced. That achievement garnered him the Meritorious Service Medal.
After returning to San Diego in 1994, John started working for the State of California Employment Development Department as a Transition Assistance Program Instructor. He and his wife started searching for a church home and found Linda Vista 2nd Baptist Church under the Pastorship of Doctor David C. Greene. Soon after, on September 23, 2005, John joined the usher ministry. Soon afterward, Doctor Gray received the Certificate of Ordination as a gospel minister at Linda Vista Second Baptist Church on the 10th day of January 2010. On November 15, 2009, Doctor Gray was awarded the Doctor of Ministry, and on July 20, 2010, he became the recipient of the Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies. Doctor Gray was preceded in death by his mother, Ethel Ophella Hunter-Gray, brother Ivria Jamal Gray, and sister Beebee Cecilia Gray. To cherish his memory are his lovely wife, Sister Althea Gray, his three black diamonds, Mr. Johnny Javan Gray, Jr. (Leslyn) of Virginia, Mr. Mark Anthony Gray (Mildred) of California, and Mr. Christopher Jordan Gray of California, his six grandchildren (EJ, Jasmine, Elijah, Aleena, Jayson, and Saniyyah), and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, church family and friends.