From CENTCOM to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, a Family Tradition of Service

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  • By 927th ARW PA

Retired Navy Captain William Pray, who turned 90 in March 2023, made a Halloween visit to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, hosted by Andrew Pray, Capt. Pray’s son and Wing Historian.

Capt. Pray retired from the Navy in 1987 after 32 years of active naval service. Capt. Pray said the highlight of his career was commanding the Polaris Missile submarine, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER (SSBN-656) in the late 1960’s. Capt. Pray’s final tour was with Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base in the mid 1980’s.

 “I saw my old boss a few years after I retired and asked him why he sent me on that mission,” said Capt. Pray, surprised when he was deployed to the Middle East so close to retirement. “He said you’re a submariner, right? Submariners are sneaky, so you’re sneaky!”

Prior to being hired as Wing Historian, Andrew served in the Navy as well, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander in 2010.

“Soon after reporting to my first ship, I realized I had taken Dad’s accomplishments for granted. There is no way to adequately explain the challenges and responsibilities you face in the military if you haven’t experienced it, especially the responsibility of command,” said Andrew. “My respect for what he accomplished grew exponentially the longer I served.”

“I toured a museum submarine in Pearl Harbor, the USS BOWFIN, and couldn’t imagine working and living on a submarine for months at a time,” said Master Sgt Albert Anthony, who spoke with Capt. Pray about his submarine career. “He’s got my respect!”

Capt. Pray lost his wife of 62 years, Anne, in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. “I miss her terribly every day,” Capt. Pray said. “Seeing my son and the young people here at MacDill makes me feel happy.”