By Christine Baldwin, AFRH-W Librarian
Stan Stewart was born in Indiana and moved around many times during his early childhood finally settling in Evansville, IN, when he was 9 years old. After graduating from high school and seeing that the draft was still active, even though the Korean War was over, Stan decided to join the US Navy in the winter of 1955. The recruiter said he would be going to Naval Station Great Lakes, IL for basic training. Great Lakes in December? The Air Force recruiter at the next desk, seeing an opportunity, asked if he would prefer California. Stan was sold and became an Air Force enlistee.
So it was off to Parks AFB, just outside of Oakland, CA for basic training, then to Chanute AFB, IL for Tech school. His next several assignments were to Portsmouth, NH; Goose Bay, Labrador; Thule, Greenland and Keflavik, Iceland. Not exactly warm climates! In fact, Stan remembers working the flight line in Thule at minus 47 degrees with a wind chill factor almostimmeasurable. After a tour at RAF Fairford in England, Stan was assigned to, of course, Plattsburgh, NY. A son was born there. One December night, with the outside temperature below zero, the base steam heating system went down. Temperatures in the housing units were frigid. That morning, the formula bottle was frozen solid! Later that morning he was presented transfer orders to Midway Island and was ecstatic! Finally warm weather! A daughter was born on Midway. Two years later he was stationed at Oxnard AFB, CA. After a six month tour in Okinawa, Korea and Vietnam, it was off to Kingsley Field, OR. After working as an avionics technician took a toll on Stan’s hearing, an Air Force doctor ordered him off the flight line and away from noise hazardous areas. Stan was then assigned to Ft. Monmouth, NJ for a year to retrain into communications and then he was sent to the Pentagon, where he was for most of his last 8 years. One 6 month assignment, though, had him detailed as the Detachment Commander at Goose Bay, Labrador working to close out the American presence there. Stan had to sign off on every inventoried piece of communications gear, instrument landing system and precision approach radar component, all the while keeping the Air Base functioning until the Canadians took possession. He had arrived with a legible signature and after signing several thousand inventory documents, returned with a totally illegible one. Returning to the Pentagon, Stan was in support of the National Military Command Center. After making Chief Master Sergeant, he declined to finish the required 2 years’ service and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. Stan spent the next 22 years in the DC area working as a real estate broker. He was manager of a Long and Foster office, when he retired and had several years’ experience with the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, serving on the Board of Directors and also as President and Chairman of the Board in 1997.
Stan and his wife moved to the Outer Banks area of North Carolina in 1999. They spent several years renovating an old farm house. After 53 years of marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Stan’s wife Peggy died. Breast cancer had claimed another victim. They had raised two children a boy, Scott and a girl, JoAnna, seeing them through college and helping them buy their first house. They are still close and he still gets calls for advice. Stan is a musician and can play several instruments. Wherever he went, there was usually a group needing a guitar or bass player so he fit right in. Stan’s first love in music is country, although the Beatles era rock is a close second. Stan is also an active Mason, having served as Master of three different lodges, as well as Master of a Scottish Rite Consistory. In 1983, Stan was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel, which is the highest civilian honor the state of Kentucky confers.
Stan moved to AFRH-W in July of this year. After five years living alone in the house he and Peggy had created and loved, Stan decided the time to make plans for moving to a retirement facility was at hand. When asked how he had known about AFRH-W, Stan replied “It was a deduction from my first pay at basic training.” Does he miss his home in North Carolina? “Of course,” he says, “but I’m content here. I’ve made some good friends here and expect to make more. And I spent 30 years just across the river in Fairfax County, so I have some roots here.”