Navy Lt. John Gregory, patrol plane
commander with Patrol Squadron 47, sees the protection of his military and civilian
families as his top priority. Photo by: Photo Courtesy of Navy Lt. John Gregory
Navy pilot, former
Marine on patrol
(reprinted from Marine Corps News, September 7, 2005)
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE
BAY Hawaii(Sept. 9, 2005) --
The 21st century battlefield involves more
cohesion between services, perhaps, than any previous era in United States military
history. Marines and Army forces on the ground rely on information collected from Navy and
Air Force pilots in the sky, while naval air units protect naval assets at sea and vice
versa, and the airborne services may even rely heavily on information collected from the
Here at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Navy P-3C Orion pilots from the various
patrol squadrons protect assets on land and at sea while providing aerial reconnaissance
for ground units in combat. For one pilot with Patrol Squadron 47, who came into the
service as an open-contract Marine, the protection of forces on the ground is not just a
job, it's an obligation to protect his family both military and m'nage.
Family is everything to me, said Navy Lt. John Gregory. For me, being a
leader and a warrior comes first, but the protection of my family is a close second.
Once a Marine Corps food service specialist, Navy Lt. John Gregory is now the patrol plane
commander of a P-3C Orion for VP-47. Gregory claims that he will never forget what he
learned as a Marine, and with that came an appreciation for the Navy/Marine Corps family
and what it can offer.
Born in Richland, Wash., Gregory enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1988, and was first
stationed in Yuma, Ariz.
I knew as soon as I came in that I wanted to do more, said Gregory, but
in the Marine Corps, I had to wait at least a year before I could leave my MOS (military
According to Gregory, he always did his best at every task, and even won the title of Chef
of the Quarter before being accepted to Marine Security Guard duty. After graduating,
Gregory was first stationed in Rome, where he met his wife Deborah.
See, I was the nice guy at Post 1 in the Rome Embassy, back in 1991. I worked with
an Italian security guard who was much tougher on visitors, said Gregory. The
two of us combined made a great team. One day he was giving this woman a hard time at the
metal detector, and it just so happened that my kind interference during the situation won
me the love of my life.
After his tour in Rome, Gregory began gathering his package to submit for the Meritorious
Enlisted Commissioning Program, with his sights set on being a pilot. He did a tour as a
security guard in Honduras, then Panama, and finally received his orders to the MECEP
program when he was stationed in Mexico City.
I applied to both Washington State and the University of Idaho, but when both
applications were accepted on the same date, I had to decide, said Gregory. Idaho
offered free, in-state fishing and hunting licenses, so that ended up being a fairly easy
After graduating from college, Staff Sgt. Gregory was commissioned as a second lieutenant
and then attended The Basic School for six months.
I think TBS is quite possibly the best military leadership training the United
States has to offer, said Gregory. The things I learned there about leading
Marines, I will never forget.
After attending flight school in Corpus Christi, Texas, Gregory made an interservice
transfer to the United States Navy, where he began training as a fixed-wing pilot. From
training, Gregory came straight to MCB Hawaii where he is doing his first fleet tour as a
Gregory moved his wife and two daughters, now 3-year-old Josephine and 4-year-old
Elisabeth, to Kaneohe Bay in 2003 for duty.
The cohesion here between the Navy and the Marine Corps is really second to none,
said Gregory, and we in the Navy really enjoy the relationship we have with the
Marines of K-Bay. The idea of a Navy/Marine Corps family is truly prevalent here.
Now a father of three after his son, Duncan, was born three weeks ago, Gregory may soon
deploy for the second time, and is focused on providing the best aerial service he can for
his counterparts on the ground.
I also have a cousin in the Army National Guard who does convoy security, and all I
can think of while I'm airborne is how much his life may depend on my accurate
reconnaissance, said Gregory. He's the one with the tougher job, but I
have to make sure I do mine so he can live to do his. It's that cooperation between
our forces that makes me proud to serve the Navy doing the job that I do. We're a
family, and family is one of my highest priorities.