Honorable Few – Capt. J.J. Harris

Marine Corps League Detachment #1302

29th Marine Commandant Al Gray’s personal items set for auction

Marines and fans of the Marine Corps will have the chance to bid on personal items owned by one of the most popular commandants in the service’s history.

Quinn’s Auction Galleries will auction items from the estate of the 29th Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Al Gray and his late wife Jan Gray.

Household items such as a signed, handblown glass grenade paperweight, women’s clothing, Marine challenge coins, furniture, awards, a cast iron flail with wooden handle, a variety of decorated canteen cups are just some of the items in the Falls Church, Virginia, gallery’s weekly auction on Wednesday.

A separate auction scheduled for Thursday contains the general’s personal Marine Corps and military service items.

A sampling includes a specially made dagger presented to Gray from the FBI Marine Corps Association in 1989, a mounted French M1822 light cavalry saber, a commemorative .50-caliber brass ammo can with the Marine Corps emblem and a mounted Denix BKA 98 replica Griswold & Gunnison revolver ― presented to the commandant at the 1988 University of Miami Marine Corps Ball, engraved Zippo lighters, dog tags, tie clips and cufflinks.

Those interested in items can register and bid online for each auction.

The enlisted Marines commandant: the personal touch of Al Gray

Matt Quinn, executive vice president of Quinn’s Auction Galleries, told Military.com, who reported on the auction June 5, that Gray was the highest profile four-star general the gallery had ever handled.

The vice president also noted that the gallery does not guarantee the weapons are in working conditions and auction winners will have to go through a background check to complete firearms purchases.

Gray, a former enlisted man turned officer, who was the first to have his official portrait painted in his field uniform, captured the hearts and loyalty generations of Marines both during his service and following his retirement in 1991.

The pugnacious and gregarious Gray remained a bachelor late into life, marrying his wife, Jan Goss, in 1980 at the age of 52. She died in 2020. Gray died from natural causes on March 20. The couple did not have children.

The 95-year-old New Jersey native enlisted in 1950 as a private, serving overseas in the Pacific and making sergeant before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1952. In his early career he served with 1st Marine Division in Korea, and with 2nd Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Gray established the Commandant’s Reading List in 1988 and oversaw the creation of the Marine Corps University in 1989. That same year the service published what is now considered its foundational doctrinal manual, “Warfighting,” under his direction.

Those changes drew from decades experience over key transitional periods in the Corps history, from its Korean War contributions to a counterinsurgency focus in Vietnam, a shift to an all-volunteer force in the 1970s and support of the Cold War against the Soviet Union and the rise of the Marine expeditionary unit as a crucial global military tool in combat, peacekeeping and disaster relief.

He received a Silver Star Medal for valorous actions that saved the lives of fellow Marines in Vietnam. He directed the evacuation of U.S. personnel from the country in 1975.

He continued his connection to the Corps through a variety of nonprofits and charities such as the Marine Corps Association and Foundation.

Gray was a mainstay at Marine Corps events each year, the Modern Day Marine Military Expo, and a contributor to discussions and topics at groups such as the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

But beyond the intellectual and tactical demands he placed on the force, Gray was known to have a personal touch and was deeply committed to Marines of any era.

Close friends and fellow Marines interviewed by Marine Corps Times at the time of his passing in March recalled that he loved three things most in his life: the Marine Corps, his wife and his dogs.

Portraits of some of the Grays’ dogs are among items for sale at auction.