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NEWS | May 11, 2023

Mechanic, bartender and 40 years of service

By Sgt. William Washburn 88th Readiness Division

Many things have changed in the world since 1985. The Berlin Wall was still standing and the space shuttle Challenger disaster was still a few months away. In the Army, you could still smoke at your desk and women were essentially relegated to the medical field alone. In fact, during much of the '80s, the military had a strict cap on women allowed in the military at 2 percent.

However, one thing that hasn't changed is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Wendy Hoven. Hoven is a maintenance technician warrant officer with the 367th Forward Support Company, 367th Engineer Battalion, 372nd Engineer Brigade, out of St. Joseph, Minnesota. She enlisted in 1985 as a mechanic and served her first tour with the Cavalry in Germany on active duty. After her active time, she decided to join the Army Reserve.

Hoven says that being in the military is essentially a family tradition. Her dad was a Korean war Veteran and was in the Army and Navy. She also has three older half brothers that served in the military. When she was a kid, her brother used to take her to school in a 1965 Pontiac GTO and that sparked her interest in working on classic muscle cars. That interest motivated her to become a mechanic for the U.S. Army.

Hoven says that she was the only woman in her unit of nearly 200 Soldiers when she first enlisted.

As a civilian, she works as a bar tender for a Veteran of Foreign Wars post. The military has taught her the teamwork she uses on the civilian side, as well as how to deliver a good end product to the customer as well as how to train others. She not only tends bar, but also has other tasks while at work.

“Every day, I see the post commander (who) makes the decision on your hours and how are we going to monitor everything. So I am not just a bartender," Hoven said. "I inform the guys the amount of stuff that we use, and it's just like your shop stock and bench stock type items that you would use for your equipment to make sure you have everything on hand that you need.”

When it comes to other big changes in the Army during her nearly 40 years in the military, Hoven states “first and foremost the equipment. We had Jeeps and M60 tanks that we worked on when I first got in. The M1 was brand new so we had to do an extra month and half of soldering wires. Even most of that equipment is obsolete and going away.” She went on to say “SHARP and EO? What was that? (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention and Equal Opportunity) Back in the '80s and '90s, they didn't exist then.”

During her career in the Army Reserve, Hoven has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. She likes to joke about how she is on her “2nd 20” and that she wished she received double retirement for doing two 20 year tours. However, she plans on staying in until the mandatory retirement age. She realizes she has a vast wealth of knowledge and that she won't be around forever. One of her main goals in wrapping up her career is training others up to her standard so someone is ready to take her place when she decides to take off the uniform for the last time.