It’s Really Bittersweet

Jun 20, 2024
Written by: Rodney Wilson
Col. Daniel Hoadley, son Wesley, daughter Lucy and wife Joyce.

Col. Hoadley Leaves Minot, and the Air Force

Colonel Daniel S. Hoadley
5th Bomb Wing

“Days, weeks, sometimes crawl by, but it seems like just yesterday that we were sitting down to do our entrance interview” according to Colonel Daniel Hoadley, who now leaves as Commander of the 5th Bomb Wing and is also retiring for the U.S. Air Force after over 24 years in the Air Force.
The Hoadley family will soon be settling into a new home in Hugo, Minnesota, just northeast of the twin cities, where Dan will now become a pilot for Delta Airlines, spouse Joyce will teach in the Stillwater school district and kids Wesley, age 14 and Lucy, age 12 will begin what the Hoadley family hopes is a long tenured life where everyone can take a deep breath and begin a non-military life.

Col Hoadley started his flying career at Minot Air Force Base in May of 2003, and now he will end his career at Minot Air Force Base on June 28th of 2024. “Kind of bookending my experience here; for me personally it was a rewarding and meaningful way to start and end my career at this place. It was my first real flying assignment and my last assignment. The people here, the mission here, the overall vibe of this place (Minot AFB) makes is a tremendous way to perfectly bookend a career” according to Col Hoadley.

When Col Hoadley contrasts the 2 experiences “there’s a lot that hasn’t changed that is pretty encouraging, like the overall family feel of this place, the culture of caring that goes on here and looking out for each other that you don’t see at other Air Force bases, and then there’s the community that really embraces the Airmen and their families at Minot Air Force Base, like none of that has changed. That was part of the coolest part of my first trip here. If anything, it’s stronger than what I remember as a young lieutenant or captain.”

But some 20 years between assignments would mean some aspects of the base and the community had to change. “There’s obviously been a lot of investment in the community, and maybe it’s just me but it’s an even more welcoming and enjoyable place to live. The mission has changed significantly, but no less important. Although it was still a prime time nuclear wing back then and we were heavily involved in the global war on terrorism. That (war on terrorism) kind of faded in the limelight.

Now the work that we are currently doing across the globe as part of the BTF’s (Bomber Task Force) assuring allies and deterring adversaries has kind of become our prime-time effort. Actually, when you look at the impact of the men and women of Minot Air Force Base, it (the mission) is more substantial today than it was back then. For example, BTF’s are monumental, strategic nation, state level impact and sometimes it’s hard to discern that, but it’s there 100 per cent for sure. I am just really proud of what the team accomplished while I was here. I really just watched and clapped when they did it” says Col Hoadley.

So, what is going to feel like when Colonel Daniel Hoadley hands off command for the final time in his Air Force career?

“Bittersweet for sure. On the sweet side, there’s no better way to go out than retiring from the Air Force than in a position of command. It feels like you’re winning the Super Bowl on your last play, especially retiring from a place like this. But after you’ve invested so much of yourself in a place, it’s hard to let it go, it’s hard to hand it off to somebody else…you say, please take care of it, I’ve put so much into it, it’s kind of like giving them your baby. But it’s the say of the Air Force, it’s health too. Colonel Lamarand will come here with a different perspective and different ideas on how to deal with some of the challenges and maximize some of the advantages we have here, and I’m confident he’s going to continue the momentum that we have and make this (Minot AFB) into a better place.”

Col Hoadley took a minute to reflect on his first day at Minot Air Force Base “I got here in May of 2003. I remember it distinctly because it was like 30 degrees on the first morning when I woke up” says Col Hoadley with a smile. And what was different then verses today? “I think that our proficiency, our focus, our level of effort on the nuclear mission is way more substantial than it used to be. From a cultural perspective, we are in a much better place today than back then. Now, everybody understands the importance of our mission set. People talk about the rebalance GPC (Great Power Competition), the rebalance has happened in the bomber enterprise, we have been focused on this for years now. It’s the very core of what we are doing both nuclear and conventional. The bombers today can be the poster child for the Great Powers Competition. The B-52 has always been known for being flexible. The B-52 is iconic…it’s instantly recognizable, instantly feared by the adversaries. They are paying attention to us, which is exactly what we want them to do.”

So, what are some of the highlights of your Air Force career? “The experience here really forged me as a young officer. Attending the weapons school at Whitman Air Force Base in the B2 and returning as instructor, that was a really rewarding experience for me. Command experience was always very rewarding.

You have now witnessed the relationship between the base and community from a commander’s perspective. Is it different. “I found out that I was going to take this job a year in prior to actually getting here, and one of the first things discussed with me was “You are in for a treat because the relationship with the community is amongst the best in Air Force Global Strike Command, so yeah, there is a difference. It is the best, and we have a trophy to prove it, right? The community makes the relationship easy to maintain. Quite frankly, it’s not a hard job. We start out talking like, what do you think about this? And it turns into sending 115 Airmen home for the holidays.”

For Joyce Hoadley, she was able to spend her last year at Minot AFB teaching at North Plains Elementary. “And she absolutely has a passion for teaching, and she was able to plug into little things we were able to do” according to Col Hoadley.

“From our family, we have a feeling of profound gratitude. What a privilege to be in this place, amongst these people, doing the things that we did for the last 2 years is a tremendously rewarding experience. I guarantee that I got way more out of this, on balance, than anyone got out of my leadership here.”

Col Daniel Hoadley

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