CW5 Harry Hobbs, USA (Ret), enlisted in the Army after high school to escape the poverty he experienced growing up outside of Louisville, Ky.
Today, the 62-year-old is paying it forward in his adopted community of Huntsville, Ala.
Hobbs is vice president of employee engagement for Huntsville Utilities, where in a previous role, he helped spearhead the city’s energy-savings upgrade program for economically challenged residents. A winner of numerous service awards, including Madison Distinguished Veteran of the Year in 2012, Hobbs also started the Community Awareness for Youth program when he was communications relations officer for the Huntsville Police Department. The program gives away school supplies and provides guidance to students on health, education, careers, and finances.
“Having been in abject poverty, it’s a special mission to help people because so many people helped me,” Hobbs said. “I would not be here today without many, many sponsors, without many second chances, without many investments.”
Despite a challenging upbringing that included living with 14 other relatives under the same roof, Hobbs earned an Eagle Scout badge, served 29½ years in the Army, and received an associate, a bachelor’s, and a master’s degree and two doctorates.
After retiring from the Army in 2007, Hobbs was elected to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Order of the Eagle Rising Society in 2021. Administered by MOAA and the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College, the Order of the Eagle Rising Society is given to one individual who has contributed significantly over his or her lifetime to the promotion of the warrant officer community.
“I was very, very fortunate to have great leaders and opportunities that allowed me to obtain my doctorate degrees and to have some key leadership positions that allowed me to rise to the rank of chief warrant officer 5,” said Hobbs, who last served as the personnel proponency warrant officer for the 59th Ordnance Brigade at Redstone Arsenal outside of Huntsville.
Earnest Davis, North Alabama Center for Educational Excellence executive director, first met Hobbs when he invited him to speak to some of his middle school students about the Junior ROTC program when Hobbs was a military science teacher at a local high school. He came away impressed with Hobbs’ honesty and communication skills.
“He is very transformative,” Davis said. “He doesn’t hide anything about himself. I think he uses his life story to motivate others. He’s a great motivator and a great storyteller.”
Hobbs plans to continue to give back to his community for as long as he can and hopes to publish an autobiography called A Flawed Man’s Plans in God’s Hands on Amazon.com this summer.
“For me as a Christian, it’s about service, it’s about access, it’s about giving respect to everyone regardless of race, creed or color, or financial status,” Hobbs said.