In 1992, shortly after graduating from Granite Falls High School — a small town north east of Everett — 18-year-old Nicholas Hollinger joined the Air Force.
Twenty-six years later, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Hollinger is set to retire Monday as Joint Base Lewis-McChord Garrison Headquarters’ senior enlisted adviser.
While at JBLM since June 2016, Hollinger has been a lifeline to enlisted service members, both Army and Air Force, according to his fellow Airman, Chief Master Sgt. Manny Martinez, superintendent for the 627th Force Support Squadron.
“Chief Hollinger is an advocate for single service members and (Better Opportunities for Single Service members) and (is) very involved in making sure everyone has what’s needed and knows what’s available to them,” Martinez said. “He has a very caring attitude and makes sure everyone is given the opportunity to succeed.”
Most of Hollinger’s 26 years of service to his country has been in customer service and financial duty assignments. Hollinger said he was fairly good in math while in school, but he only chose to pursue finance in the military because his options were limited to paralegal, postal or finance positions.
“I had challenges, as I was color blind and had poor depth perception,” he said. “No matter what job I do, I prove myself — I focus and I get in there and learn and do a good job.”
Hollinger said he has enjoyed his current position because he is working with young people and talking with them about being part of something bigger than themselves.
“It’s been a very good experience,” he said.
Hollinger’s wife, Danielle, grew up as a military child. She met Hollinger at his first duty station at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and the couple married in September 1995.
They have two adult children, Kortney, 21, a nursing student at Metro Community College in Nebraska, and Jakob, 17, who is studying to be a history teacher at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Both students are recipients of McChord Field Spouses’ Club scholarships.
Hollinger and his wife recently purchased their retirement home in Lacey.
Danielle has distinguished herself in the Northwest as the cupcake making champion for the 2017 Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Hollinger said. She also works at JBLM in the Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness on Lewis Main.
Hollinger enjoys sports of all varieties, from baseball, basketball and football to golf and tennis.
“If I could do it all I would,” he said, adding that’s one reason he will have no difficulty being active as a retiree.
Hollinger also enjoys time with his family and being active in their church, Lakewood United Pentecostal Church.
The family’s favorite duty stations were in Germany, he said.
“The whole family could travel, and we went everywhere from Austria to Italy and all over; we even went on some cruises,” he said.
Hollinger’s retirement ceremony will be at the Club at McChord Field Tuesday at 11 a.m.