Veteran Stories

Donald Gray

Donald Gray is a very positive and patriotic man. When he wakes up in the morning, he believes in telling the day how he is going to feel.

When Donald was in high school, he played football and participated in JROTC as well, which became more important to him. He dropped football to devote more time to focus on the Army. He loved the drills and the ceremony. He was a Drill Team Commander and won state-wide competitions. He found that he excelled in this and loved every minute of it. So much so, he visited the U.S. Army recruiter and enlisted when he was in the 11th grade.

After his high school graduation, Donald was sent to Fort Benning, GA, for his Basic Training and remained there for his Specialized Training for the Infantry. He was Airborne and trained for combat jumps. During one of his jumps, which actually turned out to be his last, there was a malfunction with the “green light,” and he was sent out of the plane a few seconds too early. At one point, he had to pull the riser slip on his chute to get away from trees and cars on the ground. He ended up landing correctly, but he hit the ground hard. “It was like jumping out of a 5 story building,” he said.

After his recovery, Donald was sent to Fort Myer, VA, as part of the Third U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), whose mission is to conduct memorial affairs to honor fallen comrades during their funerals and burials, along with communicating the story of the U.S. Army to citizens and the world. He was honorably discharged in 1994. 

Donald joined the Army because his heart was in it. “Service is what serving your country stands for. I wanted to protect our way of life, and the morals and values that I believe in, no matter what happened. My heart is for this country,” he states. “I have pride in myself because I did what I could for my family and country.”

Donald was able to transition back into civilian life. Although he misses the brotherhood he felt with his military buddies, he admits he has found his place as a Correctional Officer, the Pastor of his own church, and serving his community by working with his local Rescue Squad as their Chaplain. Donald is happily married and acknowledges he is able to do the things he does because of the support of his wife, Shari. He says, “I couldn’t do what I do without my lovely wife. She keeps me on a path which allows me to keep going. She is beautiful, and the trust between us continues to grow each day.”

Purple Heart Homes will be assisting Donald and Shari with their HVAC system and the floor foundation in their home. “Nobody has ever helped me and my family before. I always did that for others. To have Purple Heart Homes come in and help – it means a lot,” admits Donald. 

Purple Heart Homes is glad to assist with your repairs, Donald, to help make your home safe for your family. We appreciate your patriotism and your service to our country. Welcome to our Purple Heart Homes family!

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