Rear Admiral Earl L. Gay is a native of Atlanta, Ga., and 1980 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He completed flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola in 1981. He earned his Master's degree in Financial Management from Troy State University; he is also a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Air War College. Additionally, he attended the Joint Forces Staff College in 2005 and University of North Carolina Flagler School of Business in 2009.
Gay's initial sea assignments included deployments aboard the USS Fletcher (DD 992), USS Cook (FF 1083), USS David R. Ray (DD 971) and USS Crommelin (FFG 43). He commanded the Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 BattleCats, deploying the Navy's first Armed Helo/Hellfire missile detachments. He also served as “Air Boss”, USS Boxer (LHD 4), deploying with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in 1999.
Assignments ashore include search and rescue pilot in the High Sierra Mountains at NAS Fallon, Nev., instructor pilot in the SH-60B aircraft at HSL-41, Joint Plans officer at U.S. Forces Command and U.S. Atlantic Command and Commanding Officer of HSL-41, training squadron for all west coast SH-60B pilots and aircrewmen.
Gay commanded the USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) from March 2003 until November 2004, deploying twice with the 11th MEU in combat support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Following this tour, Gay was assigned as the Navy's Director of Congressional liaison, U.S. House of Representatives.
Gay was next assigned as the 86th Commandant of Naval District Washington and Deputy Commander, Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region.
Gay served as Deputy Chairman of the Armed Forces Inauguration Committee, Washington, DC from July 2008 until March 2009. In his next assignment, Gay served as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, San Diego, CA from July 2009 until June 2011.
He assumed his current assignment as commander, Navy Recruiting Command in August 2011.
Rear Admiral Gay is honored to have served with numerous operational units that have been awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" Award.