GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
To celebrate his 20 years of government service, Ronald Hoelle’s coworkers and wife surprised him with a ceremony and breakfast with Col. Alejandro Ganster, 17th Training Group commander, presenting his service pin on Dec. 7 at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.
Before serving 20 years as a civilian government employee Ronald Hoelle, 312th Training Squadron training developer, served 20 years on active duty in the Air Force as a firefighter.
“Back in the ‘70s growing up I always knew I wanted to be a firefighter,” said Hoelle. “So after watching the firefighters come and go from the station, since we lived nearby, I went into the Air Force to achieve what I always wanted.”
Hoelle joined the Air Force in 1977, starting his career at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. as a Fire Protection Specialist. Over the next 20 years he, his wife and their children moved from base-to-base. They were stationed the longest in Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., where he trained new firefighters as an instructor before the training moved to Goodfellow Air Force Base.
“Chanute is where our children call home, as they basically grew up there since we were stationed there for almost nine years,” Diane Hoelle, his wife and 17th TRG office manager.
“The best time I had while active duty was at Chanute Air Force Base as an instructor,” said Hoelle. “I sometimes have students here who will tell me ‘Mr. Hoelle, you taught my dad,’ and that just shows that it is an evolution down through time.”
Hoelle has worked in many positions as a firefighter, from Fire Protection Specialist to Rescue Crew Chief.
“Mr. Hoelle has been one of my mentors throughout my career,” said Joseph Gomos, 17th Training Support Squadron director of operations. “A lot of who I am today I owe to him.”
After retiring from the Air Force as a technical sergeant, at Lackland Air Force Base in 1997, Hoelle came to Goodfellow to work as an Instructor and Supervisor for the Fire Inspector Course as well as Training Developer.
“For the firefighters here, he becomes a direct link to their heritage,” said Gomos. “He went through training and worked at Chanute Air Force Base, there aren’t that many people still around who can say that.”
Hoelle and his wife just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They have two children and one grandson, who Diane calls the apple of their eye.
“[Ron] has accomplished one of his life goals, to serve 20 years as an active duty Air Force firefighter and 20 years as a Civil Service employee, with most of those years at the fire academy,” said Diane. “All 20 of those years as a civil service employee have been here, with the 17th TRG. We have often discussed if we had a chance to do it all over again, would we change anything? We wouldn’t, Ron’s career has blessed us with many friends all over the world.”
After all of his time with the active duty Air Force, Hoelle chose to remain with the Air Force as a DoD civilian employee to pass on his knowledge and love for the family he found in the Air Force.
“The people you encounter are the most memorable,” said Hoelle. “I would do it all again, I had such a great support group when situations in life happened. The fire academy is just one big happy family.”