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Air Force instructor reunites with son of movie star
by Kimberly Shelton
Jan 15, 2014 | 93 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
United States Air Force Airman First Class Bob Mays encountered a lot of interesting individuals during his four and a half years in the military.

As a basic training instructor in 1961 at Lackland AFB, Texas, he groomed airman from various backgrounds and walks of life.

Some of his trainees included the son of the governor of Pennsylvania, a professional trumpet player and one with a doctorate in music.

Among the 37 10th squadron was Dennis Devine, son of western movie legend Andy Devine. Andy Devine is best known for his role as "Jingles", Guy Madison's sidekick in "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok."

Like many at the time, Dennis had joined the Air Force to avoid getting drafted into the army.

Mays took a special interest in the younger Devine because he had been a big fan of his father since childhood.

As a result, he kept an official Air Force trainee photo of Dennis as a memento or bragging piece.

Last year, while going through a box of old photographs, Mays stumbled upon the photo of Dennis.

Mays is now 76-years-old, resides in Corinth and retired after a career as Director of Human Resources at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after he got out of the Air Force. He has been married to his wife Sue for 52 years and they have two adopted children, Amy and Katrina.

Over the years, he had wondered what had become of his trainee and decided to look him up.

After an extensive google search, he found Dennis to be alive and well.

The younger Devine had married a Southern Belle from Nashville and was splitting his time between there and L.A. as an urban builder of apartment complexes and high rises for 30 years.

During the time he was searching for Dennis, he was also searching for a crochet book for his wife on Amazon.

Much to his amazement, as he combed through the book titles, he spotted a book written about the late Andy Devine.

Closer inspection revealed it to be written by none other than Dennis Devine.

Mays immediately ordered the paperback for around $7.99 and was ecstatic when it arrived in the mail a few days later.

After devouring the book, he was suprised to find that the author had devoted two pages to him.

He also found the used book to be an autographed copy. The book was made out to a man identified only as Eric and was signed, Dennis Devine.

He contacted Dennis and continued corresponding with him for several months. Much to his delight, his long-lost friend seemed just as eager to reconnect as he was.

He explained to his squadron leader that he had tried contacting all of his old flight buddies, only to find out that were all deceased.

Dennis revealed he was coming to Corinth in January and offered to buy Mays dinner so that they could catch up.

Mays, who recently had a heart valve replacement, informed Dennis that he'd better hurry.

Mays remembered the mysterious inscription in his book and he decided to ask Dennis about it.

Dennis called his friend Eric, an actor in California and inquired if he had lost a book.

Eric was perplexed as to how his signed edition had fallen into the hands of someone from a small town in Mississippi.

He remembered losing it while he was at the exclusive Bohemian Club, a mens only group that he and Dennis had been a part of.

Not realizing there was another copy of the book beneath, Eric set his book on top of his locker while he changed and ended up leaving with the wrong one.

Deciding to do some light reading one afternoon, he was disgusted to realize he had brought home the wrong book.

He had wondered for sometime what had happened to his copy and was at a loss to figure out how such a could have occured and why no one at the club had read the inscription and sent it back to him.

Dennis asked Mays if he would send Eric his book back. Mays agreed and recieved a brand new copy from his former trainee as a replacement.

He described Dennis as being a good guy who portrays himself as straight forward.

"He looks very much like his dad," said Mays.

The Corinth native recalled a time when Dennis had asked leave to go to the Big Red Barn BBQ in San Antonio to see the late, great actor John Wayne.

Dennis and Wayne had been friends since childhood.

"He asked me if he could have liberty to meet with him," said Mays, who granted the leave.

The 76-year-old old looks forward to catching up with Dennis and making up for lost time.

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