FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College and Military Officers Association of America officials inducted the Order of the Eagle Rising Society's 24th member during a ceremony July 9 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
Retired CW5 Harry L. Hobbs, who is in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame, has set the bar “very, very high for the next recipients to be considered for this recognition,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, MOAA president and CEO, and also guest speaker for the ceremony.
“This is a new ‘Wow!’ moment for me,” Atkins said. “He retired with nearly 30 years of service to our nation and he completed two combat tours during his military service. He has taught at every level of the warrant officer education system, and he was the first warrant officer in the Army to earn a PhD and receive a below-the-zone promotion to CW5.
“CW5 Hobbs lives the MOAA mantra of never stop serving,” he added. “He continued to serve by mentoring youth from all works of life in the Huntsville community – he was selected mentor of the year of 2011 for city of Huntsville and veteran of the year in 2021 for city of Madison.”
Hobbs was also the first Army warrant officer invited to speak to graduating cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, according to Atkins. “That also underscores how we all think of him – not just the Army, but the entire military community.”
The retired general said he asked Hobbs what his message was to those graduating academy cadets.
“Rubber balls and glass balls,” Atkins said Hobbs told him. “They need to start prioritizing. I wanted them to know that in their lives they will have rubber balls and glass balls. If a rubber ball falls out of your hand, it’s going to bounce around for a while, and you can probably let it go and recover it and bounce it again or whatever it is. But if you drop a glass ball, it’s going to shatter and break. You need to figure out in your life what are the rubber balls and what are the glass balls. I wish I had been there to listen to that.”
Atkins added that he was honored to help induct Hobbs. “Thank you for your dedication, your commitment to our nation, your selfless service and your leadership over many, many years of service. These are examples that we all need to follow.”
Col. Ross F. Nelson, commandant of the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College who also helped induct Hobbs, agreed.
“Congratulations to you and your family on this meaningful occasion,” the colonel said. “In you, we find a dedication and sacrifice that must be recognized, a sterling example of what we all should strive to be, and an expressive reminder of the selfless service that can live within each and every one of us. We are grateful for what you’ve done and continue to do for the cohort and your community.”
Hobbs thanked a long list people who helped him to get where he is today, including his family, mentors, former supervisors and leaders, fellow Soldiers, and more.
“It took a village to get me standing on this stage this morning at this ceremony,” Hobbs said. “I never imagined that a young, multiracial boy, born out of wedlock, growing up in the middle of the color line in the deep south, raised in poverty without parents, that one day I would be standing before this auspicious group of heroes, mentors and attendees to be inducted into any organization, much less this prestigious Order of the Eagle Rising Society today.”
He added that he joined the Army after he graduated from high school because he knew the Army system “would allow me to continue to grow as a person, and reward me based on my hard work and efforts to accomplish my Army tasks and missions. I could tell very early in my Army experience that this was a lifestyle that would allow me to continue to serve my country and make an honorable living.
“I want to thank the leaders who allowed me to make mistakes early in my military career, and still allow me to recover and go on to have a successful career,” Hobbs said. “Remember that, leaders. Be careful of the judgment that you give to others, it may just come back to you if it is too harsh. That’s a free gold nugget for the young leaders out there.”
He said he didn’t begin his Army career thinking he’d get inducted into “this order, or that hall of fame – you just go about doing what is right every day, whether someone is watching or not.
“My goal was to always give my best effort,” Hobbs added. “My mentors always told me if you do well at the small things, the big things will come your way. They were right.
“Tell the truth even when the truth is not convenient,” he said. “In the final ledger of life, the truth always wins. And the truth will set you free.
“My motto is to be polite, professional, positive, passionate – I took these golden nuggets from these leaders and I grew as a leader, and even now, as the first vice president of color for one of the largest and oldest municipal utilities in north Alabama,” Hobbs said.
He closed by saying that people can get to the best version of themselves “with a four-letter word, spelled w-o-r-k. Good old-fashioned work, along with respect to others are still the keys to success. You can obtain whatever your American dream or goal may be in life. Stay polite, stay professional, stay positive, stay passionate, and when the sun comes up, you can still run – start running towards your dreams. If you can’t run, then walk like you have a purpose.”
Established in 2004 as a joint venture between MOAA and the USAWOCC, the Order of the Eagle Rising Society annually recognizes one individual who has contributed significantly over his or her lifetime to the promotion of the warrant officer community in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates and peers, according to MOAA and WOCC officials.