Rear Adm. Gary Mayes is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana and a 1987 graduate from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He received his commission from Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1988 and was designated a naval aviator in 1989. He is also a 1999 graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College with a Master of Military Studies and a 2002 graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College.
At sea, he flew the SH-60B/R during tours with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 48 and 46. He served as the executive officer and commanding officer of HSL-44.
He participated in operations conducted in Haiti, South America, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Adriatic Sea and Persian Gulf. He also served as the officer in charge of a combined East and West coast HSL/Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) detachment of 16 helicopters conducting rescue and humanitarian relief missions in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
His shore assignments include duty as a station pilot at Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, flying the UH-1N and C-12B; Senate liaison officer in the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs; naval aide to the vice president of the United States; administrative aide to the secretary of the Navy; commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado; deputy director, Plans and Programs for Commander, Navy Installations Command; executive assistant to the assistant secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment; commander, Navy Region Northwest; and served on the staff of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics.
Mayes assumed command as the 41st commander of Navy Region Southeast in February 2019.
He has accumulated over 3,300 flight hours in fixed and rotary wing aircraft. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (six awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) and numerous campaign and unit ribbons.