With Veteran’s Day a short week away, I had the chance to speak with Corydon resident and former teacher Dennis Alley. Alley spent 6-years 10-months and 29-days serving the United States in the Air Force.
Joining on June 13, 1958, Alley served in the time frame between the Korean War and Vietnam War serving as an Air Policeman. Joining just two weeks after his high school graduation, Alley traveled to Alaska where he recalls guarding the extreme cold temperatures.
“I stood out and guarded the President’s plane when it was below zero with 10-mile an hour wind and the frost would bite you in 30 seconds,” said Alley. “There was 150 of us guarding that airplane.”
With his entire body covered from face to feet, to protect against the cold weather conditions, his time spent in Missouri while serving didn’t seem so bad.
“I was stationed in Knob Noster twice,” said Alley. “I drove down about five years ago to the base and they wouldn’t let me on and I used to guard the gates.”
Alley noted there were several crises during his time of service.
“During the Berlin Crisis I was sent to Spain for two months to guard planes,” he stated.
“I guarded planes for years, and that’s why I can’t hear now,” Alley said. “If you were on the back side guarding there were 54 jet engines going and we didn’t have ear plugs so I have trouble hearing at times now.”
Alley originally planned to serve for 20 years however his plans changed.
“I could have stayed the 20-years, but the cost of living was too high so I had an honorable discharge,” he said. “Well actually I had two. I re-enlisted after the first one then was discharged again.”
Had Alley not returned to Wayne County where he was born and raised and attended school at, he likely would have been deployed during the Vietnam War.
Following his second honorable discharge, he spent time serving with the sheriff’s offices in San Bernardino County and here in Wayne County as well.
“The only thing I had ever done was air police work before,” said Alley.
During his time with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, Alley was involved in the months long search for missing boy scouts in 1969.
“It was an 86-day search where we were out in a snow storm where we probably got 15-foot of snow in one night,” said Alley.
After returning to Wayne County and serving as Deputy Sheriff here locally, Alley graduated from Iowa State University in the fall of 1973. He went on to teach Industrial Arts for two years each at Central Decatur and Mormon Trail.
“Dick Pyner got me to come here and I taught for six years here at Wayne,” he added. “I taught drafting, electricity and building trades and there’s three houses here in town we built.”
During the farm economy decline, Alley and his wife Gayla traveled to California again to teach before making his way back to Corydon for retirement.
“I enjoyed my time in the military but it was a hard living,” Alley said. “I worked two jobs the whole time. The military isn’t for everybody but I feel proud to have served my country.”