The guest of honor at the upcoming Kingdom of Callaway Dinner is Gerald R. McCray.
McCray is the son of Gary and Doris McCray of Mokane. He has two siblings, Loretta Taylor from Mexico and Chuck McCray from Fulton. He attended South Callaway R-II Schools and graduated in 1987, where he participated in various academic and extracurricular activities.
After graduating, McCray enrolled at the University of Missouri-Rolla, now known as the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He participated in a US Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and in 1992 graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
McCray married Dottie Paschal of Auxvasse in October 1992.
In July 1993, McCray traveled to Sheppard Air Force Base to begin his Air Force career as an aircraft maintenance officer. After completing technical school, he completed two operational tours.
After these visits, McCray traveled to the Air Logistics Center in Oklahoma City for his Logistics Career Expansion Program. Through this program, he learned more about the logistics and repair of different types of aircraft.
In February 2003, McCray traveled to Air Mobility Command headquarters in Illinois for a visit. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 for 13 months.
After returning from Iraq, he and his wife had two children, Alaina and Cody. He was also chosen for a one-year master’s degree through the Air Force Institute of Technology.
McCray commanded the 437th Generation Aircraft Squadron in South Carolina. He was also in charge of the Air Force’s largest C-17 airlift squadron.
In July 2009, McCray was selected for a staff assignment at the Pentagon. He was then selected for the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Country Office Manager for Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.
McCray was chosen for a fellowship with the RAND Corporation in California after the Pentagon. He also toured Kyrgyzstan as commander of the 376th Expeditionary Maintenance Group.
Once back in the United States, McCray went to Oklahoma as commander of the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group. After this assignment, he went to Georgia to be the vice commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.
McCray returned to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois in 2017 to complete his 27-year career as associate director of logistics, engineering and protection for Headquarters Air Mobility Command.
He said his posting to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida was the most significant for him in his career. McCray said it was because of his bosses and the opportunities he had there. He said this place helped him decide he wanted a career in the military.
McCray and his family moved back to Callaway County in July 2020. They currently live in Mokane, where McCray is the project manager for Ameren Transmission.
McCray said he and his wife always planned to come back to Callaway County after the military, but they didn’t expect to be gone that long.
McCray was chosen as guest of honor by the current president, Mark Smart. He said it’s a great honor to be chosen as the guest of honor, and he was surprised to be chosen because he feels unworthy.
“I was just someone who went out and did the job and came back,” McCray said. “But I consider it an honor.”
The dinner will be held on Tuesday, October 18 at William Woods University. The President’s Reception will begin at 5 p.m. at the Gladys Woods Kemper Art Center. Dinner will begin at 7 a.m. at Tucker Dining Hall, and the program will begin at 8 a.m. at Dulany Auditorium.
Dinner tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Callaway Bank, Central Bank, United Security Bank, Callaway Chamber of Commerce, Crane’s Store, Fulton Moser’s, and Short Stop in Millersburg.
This year, the Kingdom of Callaway Supper is the 117th annual event.