After 27 years in the hospitality industry, Helen Holm (dubbed The Duchess of Lodging), March Inn general manager, retired May 30, 2014, at a ceremony in the courtyard of building 100. The event was attended by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing leadership as well as Holm’s husband, Frank, two of her three children, staff and friends.
Holm was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, where she graduated from Ely High School for Girls in 1966. She attended St. Martin’s College, Littleport, England and the University of Maryland, Iraklion Air Station, Crete, Greece.
Holm began her services career as a desk clerk at the former March Air Force Base in 1985. Two years later she was promoted to reservations manager, a position she held for the next two years. It was then that she decided to transition to the commercial hotel sector, working at the Ramada Inn, Moreno Valley, as the front desk manager for a couple of years before returning to March Field in 1995, where she remained as assistant general manager and then general manager until 1998, when she moved to RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, as their lodging general manager for four years. When Holm returned to the U.S. she was hired on at Los Angeles AFB, to fill the lodging general manager position. Five years later, Holm moved back home to March Field.
From the March Notable Achievement Award in 1987 to the Air Force Reserve Sustainment Services Flight Manager of the Year in 2010, Holm has earned numerous accolades and awards. In addition to her individual awards, she has led her teams to five major team Innkeeper Awards spanning 16 years.
Given the many fiscal challenges with budgeting the past couple of years, Holm has left a legacy. The tedious, long project that is the March Inn remodel was one that she fought for. She made it her own in order to benefit those who will use it long term, said Jacqueline MacGowan, March Inn guest services manager.
“She (Holm) was integral in the various lodging construction projects,” said Col. Timothy McCoy, 452nd Mission Support Group commander. “Without Helen we wouldn’t have the current lodging facility.”
MacGowan, said that lodging will continue to be successful because of Holm’s leadership. She added that Holm is fantastic and ethically great; a woman who takes pride in her work and cares a lot about her employees, as well as striving for top-notched customer service for the troops.
“The staff will miss her expertise but follow her lead and keep moving forward,” said MacGowan. “(The staff want to) thank her and Frank (her husband) for being here and supporting us. (We are) proud because of the knowledge she’s passed on to us. She’s left us with a sense of accomplishments and we wish her the best for years to come.”
After a flag-folding ceremony and presentation by the Blue Eagles Total Force Honor Guard and several presentations by various groups and individuals, Holm took center stage to thank commanders, deputies and all the support agencies on each base for the phenomenal support provided to her throughout the years.
“March Air Reserve Base has been my favorite,” Holm said. “I am truly thankful to you all!”
She continued by telling the crowd that she has had the best lodging staff the Air Force has to offer and that the one at March is on the top of her list.
“Even through adversity, with reduction in hours and pay, the March Inn staff has maintained their professionalism and pride in their work,” she said. “They are the most dedicated, conscientious, customer service-oriented, hardest working people to be found anywhere. I have been so proud, privileged, and extremely grateful to work with them. My hat’s off to them!”