Writer / Natalie Platt
In a world where courage and selflessness reign supreme, Veterans Day serves as a momentous occasion to recognize the heroes who have walked the path of duty. Their stories of sacrifice are woven into the fabric of our nation’s history. They’ve faced the challenges of war and returned with a profound sense of duty
For Ken Stanley, the path of duty lasted for a total of 32 years. He spent over three decades in the military serving in the Air Force and the Army. He joined the Air Force in 1977 after graduating high school in Phoenix, Arizona, then spent five years as an enlisted airman fire protection specialist. He was stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois (now closed) and on a remote assignment in King Salmon, Alaska (now closed), and finished at Grissom Air Force Base before it was reclassified to a reserve base.
Then Stanley left the Air Force and enrolled in Army ROTC at Purdue University, where he was commissioned as a military intelligence officer after graduation. He spent 15 years in the Army and Army National Guard, with stops at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Fort Hood in Texas, and Bamburg, Germany.
In 2001 he transferred back to the Air Force as a major working in personnel and logistics, and spent four years as an inspector general. He deployed twice to the Middle East while working in logistics, and retired in December 2012 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Stanley was influenced to join the service by his father, who was a retired Navy chief petty officer ,and by his uncle, who served in Vietnam. His mother’s great-uncle was also an interpreter during World War II and spoke fluent German.
One of Stanley’s standout memories while in Afghanistan came after he had been traveling throughout the country for a few days and returned to the base in complete exhaustion.
“I actually slept through a mortar attack that took place way outside the perimeter of the base because I did not hear the alarms sounding,” Stanley says. “I was extremely blessed to have so many opportunities over my 30-plus years, such as attending the Joint Intelligence College in Washington, D.C., and getting my master’s degree while in the service.”
Now a world history teacher at Tri-Central High School, Ken Stanley credits his wife for his success.
“I would not have had such a successful career without the support and help from my wife, Becky, over those years,” he says.