"Skids" Gray------ as told by Scott E. Lark written by Jennifer Hartman

In 1942, my grandfather first met Corporal Robert “Skids” Gray.  A native of New England who, before World War II had done duty in China and American Samoa, Skids was what my grandfather called a “model Marine.”  He always presented himself immaculately:  his uniform trousers had so sharp a crease you could cut your finger on it.  


Years later, my grandfather was station in Korea from 1951 - 1952 for a thirteen-month tour.  He had left Korea but couldn’t go home until he had finished another three months, so he was sent to Japan.  


"As a junior officer - a 1st Lieutenant (“shit bird”) - I was assigned duties not normally assigned to those more senior," he explained, "as either Trial Counselor or Defense Counselor for prosecuting or defending enlisted Marines for violation of articles under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)."  In the Military Justice system, no law degree was required.  Those assigned a job in the courtroom read the (UCMJ, studied it, and followed its rules on all cases.


At this time, my grandfather’s first experience with military law, he was the prosecutor of a Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Airwing (rear) located at Itami, Japan, near Osaka.


When he read the name of the man he was to prosecute - Robert Gray - he thought, Do I know him?


There were three or four charges: missing movement; breaking and entering a Japanese national’s house; violation of Article 134, conduct unbecoming a Marine.


One of the assignments of the Trial Counselor is to visit the brig and interview the accused before the trail.


At the interview, my grandfather saw that it was Skids Gray, still a corporal, the same rank as when my grandfather had last seen him four years prior.


Skids had a long and sad story.  He had married a reporter who had taken up with an officer and had Dear John-ed him while she was stationed in Europe.  In his heartbreak, he asked for a second 13-month tour overseas and, in Japan, fell in love with a Japanese girl.  She thought he was going home - he didn’t, hence the missing movement charge when he intentionally missed his ship home from Japan - and went out with another GI.


Skids, though, went to retrieve her from her father’s house and entered, drunk, with his shoes on (against the cultural etiquette), after having refused to pay the rickshaw driver.  


The papasan called the Japanese police, who in turn called the military police, who sent  paddy wagon to throw Skids into the brig.


On top of the military charges, Skids was also facing Japanese civil charges.


He told my grandfather melodramatically that he just gave up and wanted someone to hang him.


First, they had to deal with the civil charges.  Using a Japanese-American Marine Sergeant George Kamuri as an interpreter, they called all involved - the rickshaw driver, the Papasan, the girlfriend - as witnesses.  Eventually, they were able to free him of the civil court.


Next was the military court.  Although most of the other charges were petty, missing movement in wartime can be a capital offense.  


Skids never denied what he had done, but did elicit some sympathy from my grandfather for his “tale of woe.”  Still, in the court martial, my grandfather as the prosecutor followed the credo “bring the guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial, then hang him.”  Skids was reduced from corporal to private, fined, given 30 days in the brig, and sent home, though he remained a Marine.   


My grandfather remembers that case in the most specific and vivid detail and as one of the hardest to deal with because of the embarrassment and sympathy he felt for someone he once liked and admired.  

He never saw Skids again.

Our Family

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-  An old Chinese Proverb

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- What's New? (Additions to the website)

- Blog
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- Cousins (The 34 children of the 12 children of George LARK & Virginia Catherine THOMPSON).
- Deed & Homesteads (Homes of George Washington LARK and Virginia Catherine THOMPSON).
Do You Know These Ancestors? (Family photos that need identification)
- Elusive Ancestor (Eva Lark)
Final Resting Place for some of our our family with cemetery addresses and associated obituries. 
- Gallery (Pictures) Gallery1, Gallery2, Gallery3, Gallery4, Gallery5, Gallery6, Gallery7, Gallery8, Gallery9
- George Washington LARK & Virginia Catherine THOMPSON's Family Pictures of G.W. LARK and V.C THOMPSON with their 12 children. 
- Lark Cousins Across The Pond  (Story of Tracey Newton, a Lark born & raised in the UK)
Martin's Hundred  (The 17th Centruy Plantation in Southeast Virginia on the James River). 
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- Military Service (Family members who serviced our Country)John Amburgey's Revolutionary War Record.
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 Surname list includes:  birth/death dates; father/mother surname & given name.


- Scott Lark b1923 (HTML)
- Lark Pedigree Chart (PDF)
- Compressed Lark Pedigree Chart (PDF)
- Elizabeth Amburgey b1821 (HTML)
- Descendant Chart John Amburgey Jr b1758 (PDF)
- Descendant Chart Edward Thruston
b 1637/38 (PDF)

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