“I’m Really Going to Miss These People”
Hollywood couldn’t create a better hero than the one Colonel William “Greg” Gregory is in real life. He flew P-38 fighter jets over North Africa and Europe and saw extensive combat during World War II. In the early 1960’s, he served as a squadron commander for the clandestine U-2 spy plane program. “The squadron I had, we found the first surface-to-air missiles in Cuba,” he recalls more than a half-century later. His team photographed the Soviet military sites, setting the stage for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Col. Gregory was later awarded a medal by the CIA and received a letter of appreciation from President John F. Kennedy. He also is a combat veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
But Col. Gregory’s heroism extends beyond his exemplary service to our nation. He’s also a big believer in serving his community. Twenty years ago, at age 76, he began delivering meals for us, shortly after his wife, Helen, passed away. His humble beginnings sparked a desire to help those in need. “My family was very poor when I was growing up. But we had an attitude that things were going to be better. They have gotten a lot better for me. I really want to help people who are less fortunate,” he says.
And so he has for the past two decades. When he first started, almost all of the clients on his route were older than he was. Now that he’s 96, that’s no longer the case. “I’d say for the past 12 years, they’ve all been younger than I am,” he says with a chuckle.
A few weeks ago, 20 years to the day that he first volunteered for us, Col. Gregory drove his final meal route. “I just thought 20 years was long enough. And my walking isn’t as good as it once was. I just thought it was time,” says Col. Gregory. He speaks wistfully of the clients to whom he’s delivered hundreds of meals. “I’m really going to miss these people.”
They, along with all of us at Meals on Wheels Central Texas, will miss you, Col. Gregory. Thank you for your lifetime of service to others!