George H. Gay grew up in Texas, where he took his first plane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor at the Dallas State Fair, accompanied by his grandmother who had come to Texas years before in a covered wagon. He worked paper routes, a drug store, grocery store, and filling station jobs as a youngster bound for college at Texas A&M. Rejected by an Army examining board at Randolph Field for flight training in 1939, he was accepted by the Navy in February, 1941. He received his wings and was assigned to VT-8 (Torpedo Squadron Eight). Within fifteen months of his enlistment, he took his Douglas TBD-l Devastator off the deck of the USS Hornet and flew into the Battle of Midway. Shot down, he floated thirty hours in the open sea, while the savage battle - pivotal in the war with Japan -- raged around him. The sole survivor of his squadron, he was rescued to fly again at Guadalcanal.
Later he served as combat instructor at NAS Opa-locka, Florida. He was awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart. "George would have been at home in Lexington, Concord and Valley Forge," observed Edward Hunt, writer for LIFE magazine, "accepting uncomplainingly the worst the enemy could muster against you, then fighting on to victory." Following separation from the Navy, Gay spent thirty years flying for Trans World Airlines. As a retired airline Captain, he lived in Marietta.
George H. Gay, Jr., a man of quiet courage, humility and total dedication to duty, was enshrined May 7, 1994.