Valentines Day: Love comes back to Altus

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Those that know Altus, Oklahoma, know how important the connection is between the local community and the military at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Because of this, some military couples stationed here ultimately return after ending their service. Sharon and Lynn Gardner are an example of two Airmen who fell in love with each other and the Altus community. 

Sharon and Lynn met while stationed at Altus AFB in 1984. Sharon enlisted in 1982 and became a graphic artist. Lynn enlisted in 1978 as a loadmaster and was stationed at Travis AFB, California, before coming to Altus. 

Some of Sharon’s job responsibilities included making charts, posters and 35 millimeter slides, which were used for training. When Lynn came to Altus AFB for training, it didn’t take long for them to cross paths. 

“When I took the slides back to graphics, that’s where I saw her, and I knew I was attracted to her,” said Lynn. “She lived in the dorms and I would see her walking to and from the chow hall. One day at the gym, I asked her out to dinner and here we are almost 40 years later.”

The two were married on October 20, 1985 in Altus. Sharon shared that the minister who married them also took their wedding portraits. 

The Gardners had two kids, Ashley and Savannah, in Altus before they had a permanent change of station to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. There, Sharon separated from the Air Force.

Sharon’s transition from active duty to civilian was family focused. She said that, with her husband being a loadmaster and flying all the time, it would have been difficult for her to stay active duty. 

Sharon was in the Air Force for eight years before separating and becoming a contract employee. Throughout her time as a contractor, Sharon worked with C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters and C-17 Globemaster IIIs. 

In 1998, after spending five years in Alaska, the Gardners had an opportunity to move back to Altus because a civilian position for Sharon and an active duty position for Lynn had opened up. 

“We don’t like big cities, so Altus is great for us,” said Sharon. “We really enjoyed Altus the first time, so there wasn’t even a second guess about moving back.”

Lynn retired at Altus AFB and also became a contract employee on the C-17 training simulators.

Sharon and Lynn are happy to be in Altus, and appreciate that their children had the opportunity to go through school in town, which doesn’t always happen for military kids. 

“We wanted our kids to get through school in one place,” said Lynn. “As a military family, now retired, it was important for the kids to go through grade and high school in one town.” 

With the kids out of the house now, the Gardners hope to retire soon so that they can do more traveling.