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Boots are hung, far from done

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
After a 21-year career, a retired senior master sergeant couldn't walk away from doing what she loved most. She continues to serve today as a civilian watch supervisor at MacDill's air traffic control tower sharing the knowledge and experience she gained from her long career.

Angela Hull's story starts out in the small town of Gaffney, South Carolina.

"I grew up as the wild child in my family," said Hull as she reflected on her early twenties. "I was always moving faster than Gaffney. I graduated high school a year early and worked as a waitress in a local restaurant to help out my family."

In a town of less than 14,000 people, Hull knew the world had more for her than a life in a small town.

"Gaffney is the type of place that you never leave once you set your roots down," said Hull. "Waiting tables just wasn't enough for me; I needed a challenge, I needed something more.

"I had a boyfriend at the time who had served in the Navy. He didn't really care for his time in the service, but just the fact that he served planted the idea of serving in my head. Sure enough, one day I went to an Air Force recruiter's office and signed on the dotted line."

Hull's father tried to talk her out of enlisting multiple times, telling her that "the Air Force is no place for a young lady," but Hull was determined to see what the world had to offer outside of those city limits. In the spring of 1987, she was off to serve in the Air Force as a KC-10 Extender boom operator.

She would later deploy to Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Masirah in support of Operation Desert Shield during the Gulf War in 1990. There, she received an Aerial Achievement Medal for her efforts in combat missions.

By the time spring of 1991 came around, Hull was looking past what her current career had to offer to something she could continue to do if she decided to separate from the Air Force. That's when she headed to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, to learn how to be an air traffic controller.

"Originally, the thought was that I was going to finish out my second enlistment as an air traffic controller and then go to work for the Federal Aviation Administration," said Hull. "The money you make outside of the Air Force is just so much better as an air traffic controller. What I didn't know at the time was that I was going to love serving more than the thought of a bigger paycheck."

Hull started making rank quickly, and with her new rank came the responsibility and privilege of training and mentoring the Air Force's newest air traffic controllers. Her promotions took her to Air Combat Command (ACC), where she worked as the superintendent of air traffic control operations and procedures. In that role, she provided oversight and guidance, and conducted annual unit effectiveness inspections for 16 bases.

She attributes her passion for mentoring and inspiring Airmen in part to her supervisor at ACC, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody.

"I worked with Chief Cody at Incirlik Air Base back in 1994 when he was technical sergeant Cody, and I was staff sergeant Hull. Even back then, he was an example of a good Airman," said Hull. "Being able to work with him again in 2003 solidified the characteristics that I brought forward from those experiences almost 10 years prior. His compassion and understanding, the way he cared for Airmen on a personal level was inspirational."

In 2005, Hull had the opportunity to apply what she learned from the chief and ACC when she filled the position as the chief controller at MacDill, and the rest is history. 

After serving three years as the chief controller, Hull retired as a senior master sergeant. She wasn't gone long though. The next shift she showed up in civilian clothes as a watch supervisor. In her own words, "I just couldn't walk away from the Airmen. I love mentoring and teaching new controllers and watching them grow into fully capable, certified controllers."

Hull has worked eight years now as a civilian watch supervisor at MacDill and plans to serve until someone or something stops her. She leads a team of controllers four days a week; teaching, instructing, watching as the next generation follows in her footsteps, one step at a time.

Video by Senior Airman Brad Tipton