Major, Tactical Psychological Operations Company, U.S. Army Reserves Integrated Production Team Manager, Gulfstream Aerospace
I am a 1993 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Army just runs in my blood; I come from a patriotic family, and I knew at a young age I would serve in the military in some capacity,” Anthony Ray told AIN.
After graduating from West Point, Ray was trained to be a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aviation officer and spent more than seven years on active duty. “I opted at that point to join the inactive reserves and concentrate on my civilian career. The Army was never far from my mind, and I really wanted to be in the active reserves but at the same time I felt I needed to focus on developing my civilian career path,” he said.
Five years ago, when Ray joined Gulfstream, he discovered the company was supportive of employees having a parallel military career. “I was surprised to find that Gulfstream has a wonderful military support package offered by General Dynamics, so I rejoined the active reserves,” he said.
Ray is currently a major serving in a tactical psychological operations company in Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. “I have been all over Southern Afghanistan with my teams supporting the other PSYOP [psychological operations] support elements that work for NATO headquarters,” he said.
“I am the product development detachment commander responsible for a target audience analysis team, a product development team and a plans and programs team. Even though I am the product development detachment commander and the only other major in the company other than the commander, I am also the de facto operations and plans officer and second in charge of the company. My detachment is in charge of supplying PSYOP product that resonates with the local population.”
Ray said PSYOPs includes producing handbills, radio scripts, leaflets, posters, educational booklets, comic books for kids and humanitarian assistance items.
“Our primary job is to attempt to change local national behavior in Afghanistan through PSYOP. Our teams spend tireless hours on patrols with Marines and Army units engaging with local nationals, collecting atmospherics and writing reports that allow Marine and Army units to win the trust and respect of the Afghan locals,” he said.
“It’s difficult to explain why I am so committed to the Army. When I raised my hand on the plains of West Point at the age of 18 I swore to give a lifetime of service to my country. I guess I still remember that and believe in it,” he said. “Service can be lots of things to lots of people, but to me I always felt I was doing the right thing when I was in the Army. I have two sons now, ages eight and four, and someday I will explain to them why I chose to serve my country. I just hope my kids understand why daddy has been gone for 15 months. It’s tough, but I’ve always believed that selfless service is the most admirable service there is.”
Ray is an integra-ted production team manager for Savannah Final Phase at Gulfstream Aerospace, where he supervises 15 industrial, electrical and mechanical engineers.
Ray said Gulfstream is supportive during his military assignments. “I really would not be able to do this without the company’s support. The benefits package and the support my wife and I have gotten over the last year from Gulfstream have been truly outstanding. My Gulfstream colleagues regularly check in on my wife, and she goes out to dinner with them every now and then. I’ve gotten packages and e-mails that let me know they are checking up on me and looking forward to my return.”
In his absence Gulfstream covers his position with a Lean Six Sigma manager. “Gulfstream has the option of filling my slot with someone else, but my boss and the other managers have refused to do that. They have been vocal about waiting for my return and say that they only want me back. I think they miss me a lot.”
Ray’s wife is a full-time emergency medicine physician working in Savannah hospitals. “It’s been tough on her to work a full-time job, take care of the boys and take care of all the things that I would normally do if I were home. She’s a real trooper but I can tell this tour has been tough on her. We’re both looking forward to my return in June; it will have been 15 months since I left home.”
“You don’t have to be gone long before you really miss your family,” Ray said. “I miss Angela and my two sons Evan and Braeden very much. I knew this would be a tough tour but when I was on active duty it was just my wife and me. Being without my little boys and watching them grow up through pictures over the last year has been difficult. I can’t wait to get home during the summer and make up for some lost time.
“Its particularly difficult being deployed when you have small children. I just hope that I can make it up to them and when they get older hopefully they will understand why daddy went away to war. I don’t expect my sons to follow in my footsteps and will be proud of them no matter what they do. What I hope they learn from this is that there are certain sacrifices that others must make to live in this proud nation.
If you know someone from the business aviation industry who is currently serving in a war zone, please contact David A. Lombardo at firstname.lastname@example.org.