Three generations of pilots reaching new heights in USAF

Their combined years of service to their country spans over 66 years and covers four major military conflicts’and only involves three people. The Groves family has begun a tradition that is rare in and of itself. Receiving his pilot’s wings on June 8, Capt. Adam Groves, son of USAF Ret. Col. Tony Groves and grandson of USAF Ret. Col. Warren Groves of Brady, is the third generation of the Groves family to be a pilot in the United States Air Force. A 1995 graduate of Angelo State University, Capt. Groves entered navigator training and flew on a C-130 aircraft until he entered pilot training in 2000 and graduated as the leader of his class in June 2001. He has been assigned to F-16 fighters and is currently undergoing fighter tactics familiarization (FTF) prior to joining a combat unit. The patriarch of the family, Col. Groves began his years of military service in 1942 when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He originally trained as an aircraft mechanic and then entered pilot training through the enlisted pilot program. He graduated from flight training in March 1943, as a flight officer, which at the time was a new rank equivalent to a warrant officer junior grade. After receiving his wings, he served as a transport pilot in North Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe during World War II. He left the service as a captain in December 1947 but was involuntarily recalled in July 1951, where he received a regular commission and stayed until his retirement in July 1973. While in the Air Force, he served in Europe and Asia and commanded the 510th Fighter Squadron in Vietnam from 1966-67. He eventually returned to Brady in 1979 where he currently resides. The second generation of fighter pilots, Col. Tony Groves, helped the family make the first leg in Air Force history by being the squadron commander of the same unit previously flown with by his father. The senior Col. Groves flew in the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron from 1954-57, and attended a 50-year reunion of the squadron while it was under the command of his son, Tony. A distinguished graduate of Texas A&M University, Tony entered the USAF with a regular commission but opted for navigator training because one of his eyes was not quite perfect a 20/20. His desire to fly kept him in the program where he trained as an electronics warfare officer in F-4s and served a tour in Southeast Asia. Upon return from his tour, he received a waiver on his eyes and attended pilot training. He went back to F-4s, this time as a pilot. While serving as a pilot with the USAF, he received a master’s degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He performed a tour in analysis at the Pentagon and then proceeded to USAFE (NATO) where he became commander of the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Spanghdalm, Germany. He later moved to USAFE headquarters at Ramstein, Germany, and helped establish the warrior preparation center. He was engaged in the Gulf War flying F-16s and was detachment commander in Incerlick, Turkey. After a tour at the weapons test center at Kirkland AFB in New Mexico, he returned to Texas A&M as a professor of aerospace studies for his last years of active duty. He retired from the military in 1999 and now serves Texas A&M as assistant commandant for operations and analysis. The most recent Groves to receive his wings did so on June 8, 2001, with a bit of historical and sentimental significance. At the graduation, which was held at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Capt. Groves was given the same pilot wings worn by his father and grandfather. “Those wings he is wearing are the same ones I received in 1943,” said Col. Groves. “I passed them down to my son and he passed them down to his. That makes three generations of pilots all wearing the same wings.” The old saying “like father like son” has never been more true than in the Groves family. Anthony Groves, the son of Capt. Adam Groves, is less than a year old. Who knows, maybe the USAF has a fourth generation pilot coming up through the ranks.

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