Veterans Friends For Life – Wilmington News Journal

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WILMINGTON – Two veterans had a friendship that transcends rank and lasts well beyond their service.

Wilmington residents Larry Stanley, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant, and Lynn Grove, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, were both stationed at Clinton County Air Force Base in 1965.

Grove was the commander of a small communications division which he referred to as Air Traffic Control.

Stanley was his senior non-commissioned officer for air traffic control.

Stanley said he was nearing the end of his career — while Grove was about halfway through his career — when they met.

They had different paths in ministry.

Grove joined the Air Force in February 1954 as an aviation cadet. Stanley joined in August 1948.

And they came from different parts of the county – Grove from Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Stanley from Hurricane, West Virginia.

But everyone decided that Wilmington would be his home.

“When we came[to Wilmington]we decided we were going to make it our home,” Stanley said.

When it came to why the two decided to stay in Wilmington, Stanley spoke about how it reminded him and his wife of where they came from.

“My wife and I both came from small towns. I had lived in downtown Tokyo and that cured me of wanting to be in crowds,” Stanley said. “I had the opportunity to get a job in Cleveland or Chicago. I told my wife and she said, ‘Do you want to live in the city?’ I said no!'”

He and his family had bought a home for Grove while he was stationed in Wilmington and serving at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Over the next few years, he served a year in Vietnam, moved with his family to Germany – where he became a lieutenant colonel – and then completed his service in Oklahoma.

“In the meantime, we have maintained our contacts and interest in Clinton County. We still had friends here, (my sons) went to school here, we bought property here with the intention of coming back and we’ve never looked back,” he said.

During the course of the interview, the pair pulled out old photos from their time on duty, reminisced, and traded stories.

When Stanley pulled out a more recent picture of himself, Grove jokingly pointed out that “your hair was black” in a picture of 21-year-old Stanley. The former Master Sergeant replied, also jokingly, that he used to have more. Grove responded with, “That’s a handsome staff sergeant.”

While the two were in different ranks in the military, their friendship developed naturally as they served together. Even after Lynn was transferred to another base and served in Vietnam.

“There was nothing really magical about it. We remembered each other as good military men and with mutual respect in the years that followed,” Lynn said.

It was in her retirement in the 1970s, Lynn moved back to Wilmington, and the two met. Lynn remembers meeting Stanley at a pizza place after she got back. Stanley said he followed Lynn’s ministry through the newspaper.

When it comes to their longstanding friendship, they consider the military a part of it.

“The military has always been a melting pot … and the friendships you make there, especially when you’re in danger, seem to last,” Stanley said.

“Camaraderie built on mutual respect,” Lynn said. “You don’t make a friendship for a day or a month. Longtime friends mean a lot to people our age.”

Lynn Grove, left, and Larry Stanley.

They met while stationed at CCAFB

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

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