Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to Major General David W. Gay, the Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard. General Gay will retire on June 1st, so this is an appropriate time to recognize his nearly 40 years of service to the National Guard and to recount his achievements during his seven years as head of Connecticut's Guard forces.
Members of General Gay's Air National Guard component--the 103rd Air Control Squadron--will soon travel from Orange, Connecticut to Italy in support of NATO operations in Kosovo. Like the nearly 5,000 National Guard members throughout the nation who have answered the call and are now overseas supporting the NATO mission, those men and women from Orange were engaged in their normal day-to-day lives one week and found themselves working in a massive, full-time military operation the next week. Such a scenario is not uncommon in the National Guard. Whether it is a military operation, a natural disaster, or civil unrest, our citizen soldiers in the Guard stand ready to put aside their private lives and report to their duty station, be it at home or abroad.
General Gay has dedicated his career to serving this country with a willingness to be called upon at any time to defend this nation and our way of life. He began his military service as a Marine in 1953. In 1960, he enlisted as a full-time member of the Connecticut National Guard, and, in 1962, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant. His steady rise through the ranks led to command assignments in the Connecticut National Guard's artillery and infantry branches. In 1992, General Gay was appointed Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, a position he has now held for seven years. During his career, the General earned two of the most prestigious awards this nation gives to its military officers--the Legion of Merit and the National Guard Bureau's Eagle Award.
Beyond his duties as Adjutant General, ranking member of the Governor's Military Staff and commissioner of the State Military Department, General Gay has committed himself and his troops to taking positive action to improve the communities of Connecticut. Most noteworthy are the host of youth programs that began under General Gay's tenure. Many of them are a part of the Drug Demand Reduction Program which brings National Guard personnel into the community to serve as role models for children, to encourage youth to excel in school, and to convince kids to avoid drugs. The various and ingenious offshoots of the program, including Take Charge, Character Counts Coalition, Safeguard Retreat, Aviation Role Models for Youth, and Say ``Nay'' To Drugs have swept the state. Last year alone, under General Gay's able leadership, those programs touched nearly 20,000 children in 88 towns across Connecticut.
Furthermore, General Gay serves as president of the Nutmeg State Games which feature Connecticut's finest young amateur athletes. Beyond his own time, he has committed the resources of the Guard to support the Games thereby enhancing the experience for athletes and spectators alike. Just as important, the General has promoted an excellent working relationship between the Guard and Connecticut's employers through the ESGR, or Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. When personnel may be called upon in times of crisis to leave their jobs for months on end, strong bonds with affected employers are critical. The General has made it a priority to strengthen those bonds. Additionally, to assist federal and state agencies in training personnel, he initiated the Community Learning and Information Network which allows employees of such agencies to take advantage of the Guard's computer distance learning tools. Over the years, the Network classes have enabled numerous employees to acquire the desired training at minimal cost to government agencies.
General Gay's commitment to the community has been recognized by several awards and accolades, a Leadership Award from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Character Counts Centers of Influence Award top the list. I have deeply enjoyed working with the General over the past several years and look forward to continuing our relationship as he becomes the Chair of Connecticut's Y2K task force. I also give my best wishes to his wife, Nancy, and their three children, David, Jennifer, and Stephen.
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