Jean Pierre Dessaint Gray was the youngest of 7 children born to Paul Morrison Gray and Jeanne Marie Bernadette Dessaint (Gray).   He was fondly known as Pete.  Pete was born on January 10, 1925 in Los Angeles, California and died aboard the USS Serpens on January 29, 1945 in Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands.  He was only 19 years old.

Pete had five sisters and one brother.  His brother, Paul, died of pneumonia at the age of 9.  The family lived in what is now known as West Hollywood, California.  The family home was at 802 N. Edgemont, Hollywood, California.  During the Great Depression, Paul Gray lost the house on Edgemont Street.  His wife, Jeanne Marie Dessaint, Pete’s mother ,died  at home on December  11, 1936 at the age of 51 due to a damaged heart from rheumatic fever.  Pete was only 11 years old.  His siblings, in order of birth were:  Jeanne Marie, Paul, Jocelyn, Denise, Madeleine, and Andree.   

Paul Gray, father of Pete, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky.  He was a tobacco salesman and part of his territory was Quebec, Canada.  It was there that he met and fell in love with Jeanne Marie Bernadette Dessaint.  Jeanne spoke no English—only French—and she came from a staunch French Catholic family.  Paul was not Catholic, but did convert in deference to his future bride’s family.  They were married at Chateau Lake Louise, Canada at the Chapel of St. Louis of the Church of St. Jean Baptiste on June 18, 1912.  Their first child, Jeanne Marie, was born on March 29, 1914.

In approximately 1920, Paul and Jeanne, along with four of their children, Jeanne Marie (known as Marie), Paul, Jocelyn and Denise, came to the United States and bought a house in Hollywood.  The house still exists today and is one block from L. A. City College (former campus of UCLA).  French and English were spoken in the home. 

Pete enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1943 and had the rank of S-1/C.  The family does not have any of his military records.  His name is enrolled in the WWII registry in Washington, D.C.   His name was also submitted by the National Archives and Records Administration to the Navy Department files.

I can remember my mother, Jeanne Marie, known as Marie Gray Tapley, telling me how devastated she was when Pete was killed.  She said that Pete was supposed to come home before the USS Serpens blew up, but he said he would stay so the married men could go home first.  He was the last Gray family male.  In researching our family history, I have felt a great deal of sadness in losing the uncle I never met—what a loss!  I know I am not alone and that many families have lost loved ones.  This is the least I can do in his memory.

Respectfully submitted,



Linda (Tapley) Kambeitz