Benelux Household Legacy: Cornelis and Charles-Henry Hobbel | Article

From left, Cornelis “Nils” Hobbel, a contracting officer’s consultant with the Directorate of Emergency Companies at U.S. Military Garrison Benelux, and Charles-Henry “CH” Hobbel, a fireplace inspector for DES at USAG Benelux, pose for an image collectively Might 13, 2022 on the headquarters of USAG Benelux at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium. (U.S. Military picture by Libby Weiler, USAG Benelux Public Affairs)
(Picture Credit score: Libby Weiler)


[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story continues our series Benelux Family Legacy, which features multigenerational stories from U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and tenant unit partners. This series explores the people who comprise the garrison and delves into the legacy they have created in the Benelux.]

CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – Cornelis “Nils” Hobbel, a contracting officer’s consultant with the Directorate of Emergency Companies at U.S. Military Garrison Benelux, considers himself a hyperlink in a series between his father, who labored for SHAPE, and his son Charles-Henry Hobbel, who’s a fireplace inspector for DES at USAG Benelux.

“I’m Dutch, and I’m French,” Nils mentioned. “My father was within the Dutch army, and when he got here again from warfare in Indonesia, he took a civilian job when NATO was nonetheless in France. He met my mom who was an architect in France, they acquired married, and I and my sister had been born within the SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) hospital in France.”

SHAPE was in Rocquencourt, France from 1953 till France withdrew from NATO’s Built-in Navy Command construction in 1967. SHAPE discovered its new dwelling at Casteau close to Mons, Belgium.

“I used to be born in 1966 so principally each my mother and father got here to Belgium and noticed the entire of SHAPE (constructed) from scratch,” mentioned Nils, who nonetheless has photos of when a few of the first buildings had been constructed.

For 17 years Nils Has served because the COR managing the Belgian providers contract for the garrison. His collective service to the garrison spans over 35 years and started with a singular need in highschool to serve within the U.S. Military.

“My final 12 months of faculty I moved to the U.S. American Excessive College as a result of I wished to be a helicopter mechanic within the U.S. Military,” he mentioned. “I wanted to have a inexperienced card and a U.S. highschool diploma, that’s all they mentioned. Each of my mother and father had been working for NATO, dad as an information program controller and my mom as chief business accounts.”

Nils defined throughout this era a part of his mom’s work required short-term obligation journeys to Germany. On one such journey, Nils accompanied his mom to start out the inquiry course of with the Military recruiting middle.

“They mentioned ‘what’s your citizenship?’ and I mentioned ‘I’m Dutch,’” mentioned Nils. “However they understood I mentioned ‘Deutsch,’ which meant German, and that was the large confusion.”

Nils defined agreements again then had been totally different between the U.S. and particular person European nations regarding army service and alternatives to hitch the Military. A number of months earlier than Nils was because of go away for primary coaching, a visit to the U.S. Embassy helped to make clear some info. Sadly, he realized because of the various agreements, as a Belgian citizen he was unable to serve within the U.S. Military.

“I got here again dwelling disenchanted however needing to work,” he mentioned. “I first discovered a job as a faculty bus monitor (at SHAPE) in January 1987.”

Disenchanted however decided, Nils continued to benefit from his scenario and shortly utilized for an open steady place as a phone operator with the thirty ninth Strategic Sign Battalion.

“I used to be working principally nightshifts and weekends for a number of years and from there I moved to the Tier 3 division after we used to have mainframes, and I’d truly name in computer systems that had been down,” he mentioned. “I used to be skilled on the job based mostly on aptitude and did weekly experiences on UNIX mainframe language.”

Understanding automation and exceling at his job, Nils moved right into a place as a resistor capacitor community supervisor and knowledge know-how specialist for thirty ninth SSB at SHAPE Healthcare Facility. He then moved into a job with DES supporting IT capabilities for the provost marshal’s workplace.

“So I’ve truly labored with the MPs (army police) since 1999,” he mentioned. “I’d journey to Schinnen, (the Netherlands and) Brussels till at one level they consolidated all of the IT work, and I used to be introduced in to work with Patrick (Delmotte), Sam (Aubert) doing IT work (for the garrison).”

Having fun with his work however lacking the camaraderie he discovered within the DES store, Nils took a place downgrade for the chance to return to that setting.

“That’s once I joined the COR,” Nils mentioned. “I moved to the MP world and for nothing would I transfer away from this world once more: I really like them – that is dwelling.”

Nil’s work and his DES work household could be inspiration for his son.

“Since I used to be six years previous I’d come on base with my dad to his work, and more often than not it was to the identical constructing I’m working right this moment,” mentioned Charles-Henry Hobbel, fireplace inspector, director of emergency providers for the garrison.

“I bear in mind driving him (Charles-Henry) across the set up within the Humvees with a helmet on, doing perimeter drives or typically letting him push the buttons for the emergency lights and sirens, testing out tools,” Nils mentioned. “He cherished it!”

Like his father, Charles-Henry or ‘CH’ as mates and colleagues know him, attended SHAPE Worldwide Excessive College. Upon commencement, CH continued to school for just a few years however realized his unique path was not his final aim.

“Since I used to be a child I all the time wished to hitch the Military, so I feel I used to be in search of one thing that may give me the chance to work with Troopers,” CH mentioned. “I utilized to be a safety guard however earlier than working with the garrison, I labored for NATO in Brussels to achieve expertise and get my safety clearances. Then after two years I moved to Chièvres Air Base.”

Eight years later CH sought out progress and a brand new alternative with the garrison, advancing into the position of fireside inspector.

“I’m in right here now for eight months and nearly 9 years whole with the garrison,” CH mentioned. “It’s a dream that I work right here. Since I used to be a child I noticed all of the army, the uniforms and it was my world, however now I get to work on this base – I can discover myself right here and it is a dream come true.”

Nils echoes his son’s expertise and shares comparable gratitude working on the garrison.

“Working for the U.S. authorities there may be this belief,” he mentioned. “First, you show you are able to do your job at 100% and now if you wish to add stuff and develop, you may go for it. That is superior, your potential will not be restricted! For those who work arduous, you’re given an opportunity to be higher at it and to me that is the American dream.”

Not too long ago married, CH wonders if future generations could also be becoming a member of the household legacy.

“If someday I can put my son or daughter into the SHAPE system, I’d do it,” he mentioned. “I feel it’s good that you could be taught from the range of the world.”

“I imply typically when I’ve to do (authorities buy card) purchases perhaps I’m not that pleased, however apart from that for over 35 years I’ve cherished each single minute of it,” mentioned Nils. “We’re proud to work right here.”


This collection, Benelux Household Legacy, will proceed to discover the various tales and experiences from the individuals who make up U.S. Military Garrison Benelux and its tenant organizations. Additional tales like this on the legacy created by means of the garrison’s multigenerational workforce will proceed to be revealed each Wednesday for just a few extra weeks.

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Patrick and Charles Delmotte.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Jan and Patrick Maessen.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Liz Schuster, Nicole Shoaf.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Patricia Campo, Alessandro Ricci.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Charlie and Patsy Herbaut.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Leon and Michael Lee.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Laurette Mauro, Philippe and Leslie Duquenne.”

Learn “Benelux Household Legacy: Alain and François Trésignies.”

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