Hottle Family: Father, daughter share last major milestone

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jayden Ford
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

A father takes the stage before a group of onlookers. He glances at his notes and then over to his side where a woman sits in her Air Force service dress with a solemn look on her face. As he begins to speak, the words swell in his throat and a sense of pride overcomes him. The woman sitting next to him is his daughter, and he is there to promote her to the rank of major — laying another piece of the legacy for their family.

Maj. Monica Hottle, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Plans and Programs Division chief, recently promoted to the rank of major with the help of her father, retired Maj. David Hottle who officiated her ceremony for the last time — with the longstanding Air Force rule being that any officer can preside over another officer’s promotion if they were the same or higher rank than that of which the person is promoting to.

This ceremony was just one small piece of this family’s legacy of service. David Hottle joined the Air Force in 1979 as an enlisted aircraft maintenance specialist after being inspired by his father’s service in the Navy during the Korean War.

“My dad was a proponent of, when you're 18, you need to go start your life, so he asked me at the beginning of my senior year in high school what I was going to do when I graduated,” said David Hottle. “We're from an area where steel mills were everyone’s go to career choice, but, given my father’s prior service and that steel mills were slowly going out of business, I thought it was fitting to go give the military a shot myself.”

David Hottle would go on to advance all the way to senior master sergeant, but said he found himself in the personal predicament of feeling the urge to continue progressing through the ranks and not wanting chief master sergeant to be where his career ends.

“I was on track to be a chief master sergeant well before 20 years in service,” David Hottle said. “I didn't want it to end, and I felt as if I had more to give, so I decided to apply for a commission.”

Two kids, a handful of duty locations, a retirement, and many years later, his daughter, Monica Hottle, made the spontaneous decision to go to the Air Force Academy, carrying the torch of service that burned in the family for generations.

“I had a classmate who came into high school aiming for the Academy and spent all four years of high school basically doing everything it took to get accepted,” said Jasmin Hottle, Monica’s sister. “Then out of nowhere my sister suddenly, partway through senior year, declared that she was going to the academy. She just really set her mind to it and went for it.”

As Monica Hottle was promoted through the ranks, her family was there, and her father was the one to promote her to the next rank, the same as he was for her promotion to major, which marks the last time he will be able to officiate the ceremony.

“I do understand that not everyone gets to have their father, or immediate family member be able to promote them,” Monica Hottle said. “It is such a privilege to have him accompany me to the next rank one last time as I continue to embody the officer he once was.”

Stepping into the tier of field grade officer, Monica Hottle says she has gotten this far because of the leaders she has served, her AFMAO team and something she says we all need — grace.

“Leadership is not something that I just intuitively have, it's something that's been learned,” Monica Hottle said. “However, I find myself very fortunate to have the support network across the entire unit — no matter what division you're in, no matter what rank you are, the people here are very genuine. I'm human and I am subject to failure, however I am in a position where those I work with or worked for, handle my failures with grace, encourage and uplift me. With that, I get to grow and become a better person and a better officer.”