George Gay was born on March 8, 1917, in Marietta, Georgia. He enlisted in the Texas National Guard on July 1, 1935, and received an honorable discharge on October 5, 1935. Gay then enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on February 12, 1941, receiving his commission as an Ensign and designation as a Naval Aviator in September 1941. His first assignment was as a TBD Devastator torpedo bomber pilot with VT-8 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) from October 1941 until he was injured during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. After returning to the U.S. and recuperating from his injuries, LT Gay joined VT-11 in October 1942 and flew combat at Guadalcanal in 1943. His final active duty assignment was as an instructor pilot at NAS Miami, Florida, until he left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve on August 21, 1945. LCDR Gay left the reserves on July 15, 1954, and flew for Trans-World Airlines for 30 years. He died on October 21, 1994, and was cremated, having his ashes scattered at sea in the Pacific Ocean where his squadron launched its attack during the Battle of Midway.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism and distinguished service beyond the call of duty as a pilot of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT in the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on June 4, 1942. Grimly aware of the hazardous consequences of flying without fighter protection, and with insufficient fuel to return to his carrier, Ensign Gay, resolutely, and with no thought of his own life, delivered an effective torpedo attack against violent assaults of enemy Japanese aircraft and against an almost solid barrage of anti-aircraft fire. Although shot down while retiring from the torpedo attack, Ensign Gay, by his courage, skill and resourcefulness, survived and was subsequently able to provide valuable information concerning the action. His unflinching and conscientious devotion to the fulfillment of his mission was a determining factor in the defeat of the enemy forces and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.