Major source of strength for former AFJROTC member

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Padgett
  • 436 AW Public Affairs
When a $1,000 scholarship essay contest for "The most important person in my life" was held for Air Force Club members and their dependants, Kimberly Hollowell thought of one person; her former Air Force Junior ROTC Instructor, Maj. Jose Troche.

Hollowell, who took AFJROTC all four years of high school in Pennsylvania, always thought of her instructor as a 'second father'.

"He never gave up on any of his students and he always pushed us to be the best that we could be," said Hollowell.

When Hollowell finished high school she enlisted in the Air Force as a medical technician. Her first assignment took her from Pennsylvania to England, but she still kept in touch with her former instructor.

"We kept in touch by phone and e-mail all the way up until 2005 when he passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease," said Hollowell. "I still keep in touch with his wife and she still works for the AFJROTC there, so I feel like I still have a contact with him."

Hollowell was one of 25 winners Air Force wide and will put the scholarship award towards a degree in nursing. 

The Major Reason for My Strength 
By Kimberly Hollowell

The most important person in my life is Major Jose A. Troche. Major Troche was my Air Force Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps Instructor when I was in high school. Little did I know how much he would affect my life and the decisions I have made even today. He wasn't just an instructor but also a father and mentor. He really reached out to his students and did what was best for them. Any one of them could tell you just as I am telling you now.

He and I developed a close relationship due to his open door policy. This policy made him approachable to his students and he always made himself available when we needed him. He personally took me under his wing and didn't hide how hard the future would be. He was harder on me more than other students and pushed me to my full potential. Many times I would break down and cry in his office feeling defeated. But he never looked at it that way. He would simply say, "I got your feathers ruffled. Why did you let me get to you?"

We would sit there in his office, no matter how long it took and he would talk it out with me. He would never solve any of my problems but he did provide guidance so I could figure things out for myself. There were many times he would let me sit in his office when I was upset. He always knew what to say to calm me down so I could figure things out for myself. Sometimes he wouldn't say anything at all. He helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses and many times I never even realized it. To this day that is still one of the most valuable things he could have taught me.

On graduation day, he stood next to my real father and mother and watched me graduate. He was just as proud as my real dad was. I wasn't from his blood and I didn't carry his last name, but I was his daughter and he was my dad in every other way. I never thought that I was that special of a person for God to have given me two fathers, but in this lifetime I have been truly blessed!

In January of 2005 he passed away after loosing his battle to Lou Gehrig's disease. A piece of my heart went with him the day he passed, but I gained all his determination and strength. Today, Major has been a source of spiritual strength for me. From time to time, I look at pictures of him and I talk to him and tell him about my worries and problems. I think about his words and what I think he might say to me if he were here with me now. Now, it's the thoughts of his words that provide strength for me today. Major Troche will always be the major reason for my strength.