News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, November 23, 2011
MILLEN, Ga. -- It was a scene that Jenkins County Sheriff Robert Oglesby worked most of the day.
"I got out here about five minutes 'til seven," said Sheriff Oglesby late Wednesday afternoon.
He and his men were still there, hours later, cleaning up the scene that left one man dead at the intersection of the Millen Bypass and Georgia Highway 23 in Millen. He says Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray of Evans apparently drove through a stop sign in his Ford Ranger and was hit by an oncoming diesel tanker. Both vehicles flipped and it sent the pickup truck into the median and the tanker into a ditch on its side.
"Estimated around 7,000 gallons is what I understand was on there," the sheriff said.
Crews had to pump that diesel into another tanker before it could be flipped and towed away, but the sheriff was also learning more about General Gray.
"We hate it on any life lost around here, but we appreciate everything he did do for our country and all," Oglesby said.
Brigadier Gen. Jeff Foley is a retired commanding general of Fort Gordon and knew General Gray.
"I've known General Bob Gray for -- really I knew of him when I joined the Army 32 years ago," he told News 12.
Like Gen. Foley, Gen. Gray also commanded the post.
"And he chose to retire here in Augusta, Ga., when he retired from the Army, which is another sign of love and support for this community," Foley said.
Foley says it's still all too surreal, but he told us about Gray's character; Gray's a man he considers an American hero.
"I'll always remember my engagements with him on business; he was a man of principle, but he also smiled, and when you got a smile out of Gen. Gray, it was a good day," Foley said. "The troops loved him. We all loved him. Just really a good man."
Gray may have retired from the Army in 1997, but the Army was still in his blood. We're told Gray still mentored men and women out at Fort Gordon. Foley says when Gray did retire here, he opened up an IT consulting firm. He was also an avid hunter.
He served as the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army’s chief of staff, 35th Signal Brigade Command at Fort Bragg; deputy director for plans, programs and systems Office of the Secretary of the Army during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; then Chief of Signal at the Signal Center at Fort Gordon.
The 70-year-old held numerous awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion or Merit, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medial with three oak-leaf clusters. The Signal Regiment inducted him as a Distinguished Member in November 2000.
As for the driver of the tanker, Oglesby told News 12 that his condition was not too severe, but he was taken to GHS Medical Center.