On the outside looking in, an individual can never know what a person is really like. Such is the case with my photo session with Mr. Kenneth Gray. A retired 2-star general in the United States Army and a former vice president of Student Affairs at West Virginia University—one would never know that his resume contained such accolades. A quiet and gentle nature he possesses. He readily opened his doors and welcomed both my husband and me into his lovely home on that Saturday morning in Morgantown, West Virginia. He began by introducing us to his beautiful wife, who he had met and courted during his college days at West Virginia State University.
Just prior to the photo shoot, we all sat down for a brief interview session. Mr. Gray communicated how blessed he was to have had good mentors throughout his career. While in the military, his mentors who undoubtedly had great strategic minds, told him specifically how to prepare for the next promotion and position that laid ahead. Having this information placed in his lap, Mr. Gray understood the part that fell to him, and he worked relentlessly gathering the necessary skillsets. He took a unique approach when the time came to compete for a new promotion or position. Mr. Gray’s goal was to make it very difficult for the evaluators on the selection committee to NOT pick him as the best candidate.
To no one’s surprise, he was very successful in most of his endeavors. Mr. Gray stands as the only active duty African American general in the United States Army JAG Corps. I grew up watching the popular television show JAG, which ran from 1995 to 2005. It was a legal drama that featured Navy lawyers handling difficult-to-solve cases. This show gave me a greater appreciation and understanding of the JAG Corps. I’m certain Mr. Gray handled his share of interesting cases in the Army, but it probably lacked a little of the flare that comes with television. However, his life story as an only child born to a coal miner and school teacher in McDowell County and rising to the ranks of a 2-star general was simply amazing.