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Patriotism runs deep in Grissom's new vice commander

By KOKOMO TRIBUNE Published: July 29, 2018

BUNKER HILL, Ind. -- As a child, surrounded by cornfields in the small town of Wood River, Nebraska, 150 miles west of Offutt Air Force Base, Col. Anne Noel attended a one-room "country school," where she and her classmates' childhood rang strongly with patriotism.

"My earliest memory is being a young child who had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to serve others and give back to my country for just the mere fact I was fortunate enough to be born in a free country," she said.

Three decades later, she continues to serve her country, but this time in a new role. Noel assumed the position of 434th Air Refueling Wing vice commander, succeeding Col. H.P. Gates III, who retired July 14.

She is the first woman to hold the position since Grissom was transitioned to an Air Force Reserve base in 1994.

Col. Larry Shaw, commander of the 434th ARW, which is the base's host unit, said he has worked with Noel before and was thrilled to hire her as his vice commander.

For Noel, a calling to serve runs deep in her veins.

Her grandfather, Edward Matte, was drafted in 1942 and served as a flight engineer on a B-17, but was shot down and ended up as a prisoner for two years in a German war camp. Following Matte's release, he chose to remain in the Air Force and eventually retired as a chief master sergeant. Noel says he truly loved the military.

Noel said when she was 5 years old, she decided she wanted to be an Army nurse. She received her commission in 1997 from Nebraska Wesleyan University, graduating with a degree in clinical nursing.

She began her Air Force career with the Nebraska Air National Guard as an enlisted administrative assistant -- a choice she made in order to keep a scholarship.

After the 155th Air Refueling Wing transitioned to KC-135R Stratotankers in 1997, Noel entered pilot training as a 1st lieutenant, where she went on to fly in the Nebraska National Guard until 2004.

Her husband, retired Lt. Col. Maurice "Moe" Noel, introduced her to Grissom in 2005, where she held numerous positions from 2005 to 2015, including instructor pilot, evaluator pilot and operations officer.

Prior to assuming her current position, she served as the 72nd Air Refueling Squadron commander from 2016 to 2018. Preceding that, she served at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, as a United States European Command war planner.

Noel is a command pilot with over 3,000 flying hours and has deployed in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Unified Protector and Inherent Resolve.
Those deployments and other missions allowed her to become close to her fellow airmen.

"As the years go by, you realize how we have grown together, sincerely care about each other and one another's family members," she said.

Noel said she feels blessed to have leaders in the past and present to support her in attaining the position of second in command of the Air Force Reserve's largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit.

"The mission and readiness is a top priority," she said. "To be able to support Col. Shaw in his vision for Grissom is an unbelievable opportunity and one that I am excited to undertake."

(c) 2018 the Kokomo Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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