Noel named Grissom’s new vice commander

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Katrina Heikkinen
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As a child, surrounded by cornfields in the small town of Wood River, Nebraska 150 miles west of Offutt Air Force Base, Anne attended a one-room “country school” where she and her classmates’ adolescence rang strongly of 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.

Col. Anne Noel assumed the position of 434th Air Refueling Wing vice commander, succeeding Col. H.P. Gates III, who retired July 14, 2018.

“I’ve worked with Colonel Noel before, so when the opportunity to hire her as my vice commander became possible, I was thrilled,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th ARW commander. “I’m so excited to have her on our team at the wing staff.”

“I feel extremely blessed to have many wonderful leaders past and present that supported me, as well as many members around the base,” Noel said. “Grissom is a unique place, we have something very special here and am honored to play a small role in it.”

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

“My grandfather, Edward Matte, was drafted in 1942,” Noel said. “He served as a flight engineer on the B-17, but was shot down and ended up as a prisoner of Stalag XVII-B for almost two years.”

Following Matte’s release from the German POW camp, he chose to remain in the Air Force and eventually retired as a chief master sergeant. Noel says he truly loved the military.

“At a very young age I felt so incredibly blessed to be born in this country and I always knew I wanted to give back and become a contributing member of society,” Noel said. “I decided when I was five, I would become an Army nurse.”

Noel 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 NEANG until 2004.

By 2005, her husband, retired Lt. Col. Maurice “Moe” Noel, introduced her to Grissom, 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
“Grissom was [first] introduced to me by my husband,” Noel added. “Meeting him and subsequently joining the unit was one of the best things that ever happened to me. We were able to train together, along with sharing in the many deployments.”

“As an aircrew member, the reality is that we spend so much time with one another, that we get to know about the lives of their family members,” she said.

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 added.

Noel said she feels extremely 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 continued. “To be able to support Colonel Shaw in his vision for Grissom is an unbelievable opportunity and one that I am excited to undertake. Many people helped me along the way, one of my goals is to pass along what I have learned, mentor and show others the opportunities that exist.”

Noel is a firm believer in the Air Force core values - service before self, integrity first and excellence in all we do – and they are the key to the success of Grissom and are the foundation that all Airmen should strive to live by.

“When one can live out the core values, then everything else falls into place,” Noel said. “Every day is an opportunity to learn, grow and interact with amazing people,” Noel said. “I believe in the people at Grissom and every day that I am here I witness people going out of their way to help one another.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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