City, county and state officials were among the crowd of more than 140 packed into the Fulton VFW Monday evening, but the real guest of honor was an Air Force colonel.
Col. Gerald "Jed" McCray, a Callawegian and South Callaway High School graduate, was the guest speaker at Monday night's annual Veterans Day Banquet, sponsored by VFW Post 2657 and the American Legion Kingdom Post No. 20.
The airman returned to his home county at the request of Legion Commander David Beaver. Beaver said he and fellow legionnaire Allen Nelson always sought to choose a prominent local member of the armed forces to speak at the banquets but that "as a veteran and also as a civilian of this country, I want to thank every veteran and active duty military member for their service."
McCray graduated from South Callaway in 1987, after which he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the then-University of Missouri-Rolla. He married fellow Callawegian Dottie Paschal in 1992.
Since then, McCray became commander of the 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group in Oklahoma City. He serves a 3,300-person team responsible for repair, modification and overhaul of a number of Air Force and Navy aircraft.