The Program Executive Office for Aviation and Team Redstone celebrated the life of Col. Joseph Hoecherl on May 9 at Bob Jones Auditorium.

He died May 2 at 51. He was buried with full military honors Thursday at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.

Hoecherl was born Jan. 8, 1967, in Lansing, Michigan. He graduated from Shawano High School in Wisconsin and enlisted in the Army Reserve at 17, beginning his lifelong military career. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1984-86, where he met and married Kelly Scheibly in 1986. After they married, he switched to active duty. In 1990, he finished his degree at the University of Central Florida, re-entered the Army as an officer, and in 1993 attended flight school at Fort Rucker and became an Army helicopter pilot -- qualified in the UH-1, OH-58A/C, CH-47D/F and AH-64D.

During his 30-plus year career, Hoecherl traveled extensively with his family, being stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Rucker; Camp Mobile, Korea; Fort Lee, Virginia; Giebelstadt, Germany; Monterey, California; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; the Pentagon; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Washington, D.C.; and, Redstone Arsenal.

He also earned a master of business administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a master of information technology from the Naval Post-Graduate School and a master of national resource strategy from the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University.

In 2016, after completing the Apache transition course, he returned to Redstone Arsenal where he took over as the Apache program manager at the Program Executive Office for Aviation. During this time, in April 2017, he was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, but continued to work full-time while fighting cancer until January 2018, when his cancer battle required much more of his time and energy.

A follower of Christ to the end, Hoecherl was a servant leader with a strong work ethic and a listening ear. He served his family, friends, all those he led and worked with and for in his Army career with a generous and kind heart and a strong moral compass. He has made a lasting impact on the many lives he touched with his positive attitude, kindness, compassion and faith. He was a devoted and loving husband, father and grandfather, and he will be forever loved by those he left behind.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Kelly; sons Joey (Emily) of Owings, Maryland, and Kevin (Taylor) of Huntsville; daughter Kristin Beckmeyer (Adam) of Vienna, West Virginia; three grandchildren, Claira, Job and Harrison; parents, Arnold and Mary Lou (Brown) Hoecherl of Spooner, Wisconsin; three sisters, Crystal Hoecherl, Theresa (Chris) Menard and Jennifer (Paul) Lake; and, brothers Jeremy (Marina) Hoecherl and David Hoecherl.