Major Gary Weaver, USMC (Ret), joined the Marines in 1965. He was a corporal (E-4) when he was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1967, and later served as an air traffic control (ATC) officer in the Republic of Vietnam (1969-1970) with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Quang Tri Province.
Shortly after returning from Vietnam, Gary was selected for the U.S. Marine Corps’ college degree completion program at the University of Florida from 1971-73, earning his BA degree in political science. He continued to serve as an ATC officer at various bases around the U.S. and overseas before transitioning into the public affairs field in 1978 when he was nominated to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California earning a Master’s degree in public relations in 1980. His first assignment following graduation was as the public affairs officer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC, 1980-83. Gary’s final posting before retiring was as the OIC of the Marine detachment at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, IN, from 1983-86.
Following his retirement from the United States Marine Corps, Gary worked as an investment broker for two years with A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. In 1991, a fateful encounter with a wounded Vietnam War veteran at a Saab car dealership led to a 20-year career with the Disabled American Veterans organization (DAV). Gary was appointed DAV’s national director of communications in 1997 and served in that role 14 years until his retirement in 2011.
As communications director, Gary spearheaded the expansion of numerous national advertising, marketing, and public outreach initiatives with major organizations including Ford Motor Company, NASCAR, Harley Davidson, the NFL, MLB, as well as co-sponsorship with the Golden Corral of the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. In 2002, he developed the DAV’s Aviation Outreach Program featuring two fully restored WWII B-25 Mitchell bombers performing at air shows around the country. He was the executive production advisor for numerous PBS documentary films, including the Emmy Award-Winning Korean War Stories (2001); World War II Memorial: A Testament to Freedom (2004); The March of the Bonus Army – narrated by Gary Sinise (2006); and Hallowed Grounds: America’s Overseas Military Cemeteries (2009). Funding for these documentaries was provided by grants from the DAV National Service Foundation.
Gary’s military awards include the Navy Achievement Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation; Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ device; Vietnam Service Medal w/ 1*; Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ palm; Joint Service Commendation Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.
He and his wife, Theresa, reside in Alexandria, Kentucky.
“I met Gary shortly after his brilliant portrayal of that swaggering Army Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the film classic Forrest Gump. His superb performance stimulated greater understanding of the lifelong sacrifice of disabled veterans into the public consciousness in a remarkably positive way. And while he will always be celebrated as Lt. Dan, Gary’s heartfelt philanthropic efforts since 1994 have earned this grateful American – the man with a servant’s heart – everlasting respect and gratitude of our military and veteran’s communities.”
— Gary Weaver