Peggy Kiefer

Grove Sun

Local residents George and Mary Dale spent the weekend visiting with two of George’s Navy buddies that were reconnected via internet. Wayne Bustle and Clyde B. Lawrence (Banky) spent the weekend with the Dales touring the lake and area. Bustle was able to find Lawrence and Dale via a “Where are they now?” internet site.

Banky said he recognized the name in caller ID right away when Bustle called him. They reconnected with George and when they found out he had been sick decided they needed to go see him and drove here from Las Vegas, Nevada and Huntsville, Alabama.

“We developed a scheme to get together. George has cancer and we’re going to see him,” said Banky.

“The three were shipmates on the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Midway aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. They haven’t seen each other since that time. Now 45 years later they have reconnected through the internet,” said Mary Dale, George’s wife.

“It’s like we were never apart,” said George Dale. “We just started communicating like we never had those years apart. I can’t wait for the next time,” he said.

The three men said reminiscing was like putting a puzzle together. One would remember a face, then another would remember a name and they would go from there to recreate stories. One would start a story, then another add bits and pieces and the other would remember more, and then the story would come together.

They first met on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. “It started as a peace-time cruise,” said Bustle. “Two weeks in, two weeks out, they said.” That was until orders came in to divert them.

“That was the end of our pleasure cruise,” he added. The end of a pleasure cruise, but the beginning of a friendship.

“The smartest thing I ever did was joining the Navy,” said Dale. They said they were all not doing very well in college and wanted to improve their opportunities. After Vietnam they all went back to college when they came back except Dale who went into the grocery business first.

After all they had been through, “It was hard to see the protests and guys avoiding the draft. It was like a stab in the heart,” remembered Banky.

According to Dale, the newly reunited friendship will continue. His health is improving and treatments are completed. “I can’t wait for the next time,” he said.