Where does half a century go?
That’s how long James Hoffman has spent in service to his country — 30 years as a servicemember and 20 as a civilian employee.
Hoffman, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., first joined the Air Force in February 1962. After nearly 10 years of service, he applied for and was commissioned as a warrant officer, thereby transferring his service from the Air Force to Army.
Hoffman’s military career included assignments to Germany, Korea and Operation Desert Storm.
‘I really enjoyed my military career and serving my country. It was even better because I had a faithful wife (Joan) who was with me every step of the way,” said Hoffman, who is the father of four and grandfather of 10.
His love of Family compelled him to go from enlisted to officer, he said, determined to make a better life for them.
Hoffman said he encountered obstacles along the way, but nothing to deter him from his mission of being a career Soldier.
Once, while undergoing quartermaster training at Fort Lee, Va., an enlisted Soldier refused to salute Hoffman who got the Soldier’s unit information and met with his company commander.
Hoffman said that the commander told the Soldier, “‘You’re not saluting that man’s color, you’re saluting the rank that the U.S. Congress put on his collar.’”
“It was my wake-up call,” Hoffman said.
Following a tour of duty in Germany, Hoffman was sent to Fort Bragg — that was in 1977.
Within the next four years, he would complete an undergraduate degree in accounting and financial management from the University of Maryland and by 1994, had obtained dual masters degrees in information resource management and information system security from Webster University.
For a young kid who dropped out of Cheyney State Teachers College (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania) to join the Air Force, Hoffman seems to have reassessed the value of an education.
“I wanted a better life for my Family,” he reiterated.
The son of James and Dorothy Hoffman, it was this message the younger James got from his father that he credits with setting him on the path to higher achievement.
‘“You have plenty of opportunities in the world, so you decide what you want to do and do it,’” Hoffman said his father told him.
But, life hasn’t been all work. Hoffman takes time out for hobbies.
“I’m a camera buff,” he said. “I enjoy that (photography) and taking pictures of my grandchildren and Family.
“I (also) enjoy working in my yard and keeping things up at my home,” he added.
If church were a hobby, Hoffman has also mastered that, having served on the board of deacons, finance committee and on the Christian education board at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church for many years.
“When we got here in ’77, we found that church and we’ve been there ever since,” said Hoffman.
After two decades of civilian service, Hoffman has earned a reputation of excellence.
Patricia Taliaferro, a co-worker of Hoffman’s at the Directorate of Logistics where they both serve as information system analysts, said that he is a dependable colleague.
“We depend on him quite a bit for a lot of things around here. He’s been around here a long time and is really familiar with all the systems we use,” Taliaferro said.
To Hoffman, it is all a part of a creed Soldiers live by — just doing my job.
A job, he said, he thought no one noticed.
But, he was mistaken. In November, the Army Materiel Command recognized Hoffman for 50 years of service to the federal government.
How has he reacted to receiving the award?
“I was overwhelmed. I just felt like nobody cared, but somebody does care,” Hoffman said. “It lets me know when you do your job and work with folks, somebody cares about you.”