I had the opportunity recently to observe a "send off" for WWII Vets to Washington, D.C., as
part of the "Honor Flight" program to take Vets to to see the WWII Memorial. One of the vets
was Wes Hoffman, the former mayor of BG. It was great to see him.
I was telling my granddaughter about him and thought I would share my experience with others.
In 1967 I was an Air Force ROTC cadet. Then Col. Hoffman was our professor of aerospace studies. That
September he wrote a letter to my folks, telling them that I needed to essentially "get my act
together." While I was doing okay in ROTC, my overall grade point average was 2.02. However,
instead of sending the letter to my parents, it inadvertently came to me! As you might imagine, I was
somewhat humiliated by the letter – and I ‘got the message.’ I knuckled down and subsequently graduated
with a 2.05!
This all being said, in 1991 I had the opportunity to visit BG, before moving back to the area. I called
Mayor Hoffman and asked him if we could meet for breakfast. (I asked him if he remembered me, and he
said, "Oh yeah, I remember you…") Anyway, we met a short time later at Kermit’s.
After breakfast I gave him a copy of that letter, and a copy of my Air Force retirement certificate. I
had both documents in a nice, blue vinyl folder. I went on to tell him that while I wasn’t one of his
"politically-correct pretty kids," I made it! He laughed, and was very gracious with his
He later wrote a second letter to my folks, who I had not told of either event, and explained why he
wrote the first letter. I then had the opportunity to explain everything to my folks!
As I was telling my granddaughter about the experience, it came to me why that first letter meant so much
to me. It is a reflection of how much Wes Hoffman cared – and probably still cares about people.
Subconsciously I picked up on that, and it meant a great deal to me my whole career. And just not my Air
Force career, but my life. I am a better person because Wes Hoffman cared…
Robert F. Holliker