John Wakeman Grove
Final Flight on December 17, 2008
John Wakeman Grove, Major, USAF (Retired)
1943 - December 17, 2008
John Wakeman Grove, age 66, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., passed away Dec. 17, 2008. Born in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1943, he was a graduate of Cornell University.
Maj. Grove retired with honors from the U.S. Air Force, where he served for 22 years, primarily as a renowned Special Operator and helicopter pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal and the 20th Special Operations Squadron Lifetime Achievement Award. After retiring from active duty at Hurlburt Field in 1987, retired Maj. Grove dedicated his talents and energies into humanitarian efforts that affected the lives and hearts of people and communities globally. He was a devoted son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend to many.
He is survived by his mother, Doris Eaton; his brothers, Floyd, Ed and Bill Grove; his son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Diane Grove; his daughter, Velvet Grove; his granddaughters, Heather and Haily Grove; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his grandson, Chase Grove; and his son, Terry Grove.
A memorial celebration will be held on Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. at Soundside Club at Hurlburt Air Force Base. Committal of ashes will be at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, March 30, at 8:30 a.m.
A memorial fund has been set up in his name to continue his humanitarian efforts. Donations can be made to BTC/The John Grove Memorial Fund, c/o Bless the Children Inc., 411 Cleveland St., No. 195, Clearwater, FL 33755.
Maj. (retired) John W. Grove was an inspiration to all who knew him - a testimonial to the finest qualities of airmen and human beings.
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Northwest Florida Daily News
December 19, 2008 - 4:20PM
FORT WALTON BEACH - For more than two decades, retired Air Force Maj. John Grove worked tirelessly on humanitarian missions, including delivering food and medical supplies to Southeast Asian countries and helping to set up a fresh-water system in a Thai village.
Grove, described by longtime friends as a "humanitarian hero," died this week at his home in Fort Walton Beach at the age of 66. An autopsy is pending, but the cause of death is believed to be heart failure.
Dave Freeman, a retired Air Force helicopter pilot, said he and Grove belonged to the same squadron and worked on various aid projects in recent years.
Grove flew special ops in Thailand during the Vietnam War, where he received a Distinguished Flying Cross, "and the Air Commandos recognized the need to help people in the different countries (in Southeast Asia)," Freeman said.
The McCoskrie/Threshold Foundation, the nonprofit, humanitarian branch of the Air Commando Association, was born out of that need. Grove served most recently as its vice president.
Freeman said Grove was an environmentalist as well as a humanitarian. He said Grove "loved the environmental aspect of what he did. He was saving all of that stuff from just going to waste."
Lon Lancaster, a longtime friend who also worked with Grove on foundation projects, described him as "the humanitarian hero in the local area."
"I suspect that many in the local area would say that John Grove was one of (if not the) most prolific humanitarian workers in the Fort Walton Beach area for the past 20 years," Lancaster wrote in an e-mail.
Starting in the mid-1980s, Grove worked to improve the lives of others and of future generations. The projects included helping to ship hundreds of donated school desks, dental equipment and clothing from the United States to countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, Vietnam and Laos.
Most recently, he solicited donations of electric stoves, refrigerators, washers and other items to give to orphanages in Honduras as part of the foundation's 16th annual Christmas Wish program.
The Fort Walton Beach resident also coordinated charitable efforts closer to home. He delivered donated baked goods, medical supplies and other items to nursing homes and community organizations.
"He was just a great member of the community," Freeman said. "He went to Krispy Kreme in Destin and they would give him all the doughnuts they weren't going to sell, so he always had doughnuts and gave them out wherever he went."
Grove is survived by his mother, three brothers and two children. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia The projects included helping to ship hundreds of donated school desks, dental equipment and clothing from the United States to countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, Vietnam and Laos. Most recently, he solicited donations of electric stoves, refrigerators, washers and other items to give to orphanages in Honduras as part of the foundation's 16th annual Christmas Wish program. The Fort Walton Beach resident also coordinated charitable efforts closer to home. He delivered.
Northwest Florida Daily News
January 31, 2009 - 7:52 PM
HURLBURT FIELD - Air Force Maj. John Grove, for all the time and money he spent on charity missions here and abroad, didn't spend much on his beer.
For his celebration of life Saturday at Hurlburt Field's Soundside, drinks were "the last beer that John drank" - cans of Old Milwaukee Light, ice-packed in a canoe.
"We've been saving that beer for about 12 years, and it hasn't changed," Grove's friend Tommy Hull told visitors lining up at the door. "Nothing like an Old Milwaukee Light."
Grove, an Air Force special operations pilot, decorated combat veteran and an admired humanitarian in his retirement, died in December at his home in Fort Walton Beach. The Air Commando was 66.
Hundreds of people gathered at Soundside to remember Grove, many of them bringing cash for the memorial fund his granddaughter Heather has started.
Grove was an embellisher, friends said, and didn't let details get in the way of a good story.
Some of his best stories were simple. He took unsold donuts from Krispy Kreme in Destin and handed them out to the hungry and homeless. He also donated medical supplies and other essentials to nursing homes in the area.
But Grove's work reached across the world, too. He helped ship hundreds of school desks and clothes to poor areas in Central America and Southeast Asia.
Around Christmas, he collected kitchen and other household appliances to send to orphanages in Honduras. In Thailand, he helped establish fresh-water systems for a village.
Grove will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in the spring.
IN JOHN GROVE'S MEMORY To make a donation to the John Grove Memorial Fund, call (727) 631-0088.
John Grove dismantles a donated school desk, the first in a pile, before shipping crates of supplies to Honduras and Guatemala in 2004. Grove, a decorated combat veteran and local humanitarian, died in December at the age of 66.
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