The man who commanded the squadron of Colchester-based F-16s that flew cover over New York City on 9/11 will serve as the next adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard.
Brigadier Gen. Steven Cray, a 30-year veteran of the Vermont Air National Guard, beat out three challengers to earn a post vacated last year by Gen. Michael Dubie.
A graduate of the University of Vermont, Cray joined the Air Guard in 1983 and flew F-16s from 1986 until 2004. He served as assistant adjutant general under Dubie, who left the guard last year to become vice-commander of NORAD.
Cray was selected for the post in a joint vote this morning by the Vermont House and Senate. He had been endorsed by several former adjutant generals, including Martha Rainville, who lauded his “national reputation for excellence in strategic thought and planning.”
Former Adjutant General Bill Noyes said Cray is “not only an outstanding pilot and leader, but he’s also compassionate (and) fair … He leads by example.”
Cray, one of only two generals in Vermont authorized to command active duty personnel deployed in this state, assumes oversight of a 3,000-person Army Guard and 1,000-member Air Guard at a time of great transition. The guard in recent years had seen its largest deployments since World War II. As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, however, the unit is transitioning back into its role as a reserve force.
Cray, a pilot at American Airlines, will also lead the effort to bring the controversial new F-35 fighter jets to the Colchester air base.
He lives with his wife in Essex Junction and has two college-aged children.