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News | June 21, 2022

Legendary bulk fuel expert retires

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

"We hereby certify that your tanks are clean and dry, and your pipes have been pigged, may you always remember the soothing fragrances of JP-8 and DF-2 as they permeated the air on a hot and humid Texas day.” 

With those hallow words, the Fuelers Hall of Fame entered a new name into its hall of heroes when Dave Ray was issued a Dry Tank Certificate at his retirement ceremony in Houston, Texas, June 15.

With 42 years of combined military and federal service, Ray began his career in 1978 as an enlisted U.S. Marine Corps Combat Engineer and ended it serving 19 years at Defense Logistics Agency retiring as the DLA Energy Americas Operations Director in Houston, Texas. 

“Mr. Ray’s career has been nothing short of stellar,” said DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy Canlas. “He has inspired others to emulate his leadership, patriotism, devotion to duty, and extraordinary initiative. His personal performance leaves an irreplaceable and overwhelmingly positive impact on the DLA, DLA Energy, U.S. Marine Corps, DoD, and every person who has had the privilege to work with him.”  

Ray was awarded the DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Award for his achievements and initiative.

A retired U.S. Marine bulk fuel officer and expert in international petroleum logistics, Ray’s expertise was frequently called upon by senior high-ranking officers. He was the major planner and driving force in the development and execution of the Operation Enduring Freedom fuel operations for the 2006 and Operation Iraqi Freedom 2007 surge of three strategic fuel ground lines of communication in support to Iraq.  At the same time, he co-authored an article for the Army Sustainment Magazine that was published in September 2010 on the evolution of petroleum support in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

“Dave is a living legend in the Energy joint oil petroleum logistics community,” said DLA Energy Americas Deputy Director Jason Exum. “He is the greatest petroleum planner I have every worked with and has an incredible mind for strategic thinking. He truly made an extraordinary impact on the entire Department of Defense’s petroleum strategic and operational mission.” 

A love of gas and oil business was forged when Ray was a young Marine learning gas at the tactical level building berms and filling gas bags.

“We Marines have leadership tattooed across our foreheads when we get off the bus at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris island,” Ray said.

Ray was famous for his candid and illuminating comments. He’d often remark, “I would like to make the observation that” (a nice way of pointing out a problem), “Can’t make this stuff up” (a nice way of saying this is stupid), “admiring the problem” (another way of saying no one is doing anything), “run the traps” (which is running down what happened so we can figure out what we need to do), and “I’m going to go Marine on them” (which meant Ray was planning to intervene). 

Various photos of Dave Ray in the U.S. Marine Corps
Legendary bulk fuel expert retires
Defense Logistics Agency Energy Americas Operations Director Dave Ray retired with 42 combined military and federal service during a ceremony at DLA Energy Americas in Houston, Texas, June 15. Ray served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1978-1986. Photos courtesy of Dave Ray.
Photo By: Photos courtesy of Dave Ray
VIRIN: 220615-D-D0441-901

Ray’s career has been steadfast and extraordinary. During his enlisted Marine Corps career (1978-1986) he was meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal, Corporal and Sergeant. As a Staff Sergeant he was the honor graduate for Staff Noncommissioned Officers School and Engineers Chief’s Course. In 1986, Staff Sgt. Ray was selected as a Bulk Fuel Warrant Officer and graduated from the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Petroleum and Water Officer basic and advance Logistics Courses. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ray’s final tour of duty was as the Marine Forces Pacific Petroleum/Water Officer where he was responsible for the Marine Corps CENTCOM and PACOM fuel concept of operations development and readiness posture.

In March 2003, Ray began his federal civil service career as the DLA Energy liaison officer and planner to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command where he developed petroleum war operations plans to set the theater posture and readiness. As a critical subject matter expert in the high-level Office of the Secretary of Defense Mobility Capability Studies, he led the way for planning and analysis of theater fuel tanker ship distribution requirements.

Ray attributes his success to the higher being, and the people he has been surrounded by throughout his career.

“At the end of the day, it’s about people,” Ray said. “Never take for granted the impact you have on people. People can overcome bad situations. People are what makes things happen. I’ve been privileged to serve with leaders who mentored me.”

In October 2013, Ray was selected to be the deputy director of DLA Energy Americas West in San Pedro, California. Ray’s tremendous leadership and interpersonal skills were on full display where he took the office’s culture climate survey results from worst to best in DLA Energy. On top of completely changing and revitalizing the culture and climate of the regional team, he successfully restructured the Americas West organization by aligning proper pay grades to responsibilities and creating a career progression structure within the organization that previously had major gaps. Ray led the team to decommission Defense Fuel Support Point San Pedro in three months resulting in the DLA Director’s Strategic Small Team Award.

From May 2015 to September 2017, Ray served as a team leader for DLA Energy Supplier Operations Supply Chain Integration Team at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was responsible for conducting analysis across the DoD global Energy Supply Chain to identify opportunities for increased supply chain efficiencies and capabilities. 

In his final assignment as the DLA Energy Americas Director of Operations Support, Ray helped provide over three billion gallons annually of bulk petroleum support to DoD and federal agencies in North, Central, and South Americas. He was the lynchpin to operations ensuring disaster response operations for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. He facilitated daily crisis response operations between DLA Energy Americas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Northern Command, the DLA Rapid Deployment Team, and DLA Energy Directorates of Supplier Operations and Customer Operations ensuring integrated fuel support coordination and accurate daily reporting. 

Ray was personally selected by the DLA Energy Commander to participate on the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act Tiger Team. He provided critical expertise and analytics driving the development of strategic documents to inform future actions based on new NDAA directives and DLA Energy mission requirements.

“It was an absolute honor and pleasure to serve with you,” Canlas said. “Your character, competence, knowledge, and demeanor are just a few hallmarks of the outstanding person and leader that you are. Even until the very end, you charged hard and accelerated past the finish line. You will be sorely missed, and we in Energy will be forever grateful. Blue skies and tailwinds!”

In his retirement, Ray will focus on being a grandfather and volunteer at his church. He has been asked to be a guest lecturer in a Texas university and share his oil and gas sector real life experiences.  

“My parting words of wisdom are people matter,” Ray said. “Family, friends, teammates, or a stranger in need, “People Matter.” As we go about our daily lives be on the lookout for your next “People Matters” opportunity. Because you did it for me, it made a big difference in my life. I appreciate you all more than words can express.”

Ray’s final advice to the Energy workforce; be passionate about what you do. If you don’t care for the work, it won’t last. Study, be a learner, find a good mentor and mentor others.

The DLA Energy Americas workforce issued their final farewell to their esteemed colleague and fuel legend saying, “We leave you with these three wishes, may your valves turn freely to open up new opportunities, may your pumps move you to even higher achievements, and may you always have enough ullage in your tanks to accommodate the best that life can offer.” 

“Chief Warrant Officer-4 USMC, MOS 1390 Bulk Fuel Officer for Life, Retired.”