Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 14, 2013

Trooper learns from childhood struggles

By TAMMIE HETZER-WOMACK
For The Independent

GRAYSON — By way of each duty David W. Hobbs Jr. does his part. It’s personal for the Kentucky State Police trooper.

Brought up on a Beattyville bluff, family feuds were hot-blooded, habitually tacked with a liquor reek. Dinnertime was up in the air. Although sad recollections of his alcohol- and drug-addicted parents loiter, the 24-year-old sweeps skeletons from the cupboard, sharing his story as he begins a drizzly Carter County evening shift.

“Seems like I only remember bad things. It was hard. I experienced so much,” he lets loose, adding his dad committed suicide when he was 13. Contending with his mother’s addiction and deterioration, he was on his own with little support. He relied on state troopers to get by.

“Troopers took care of us. They were the ones making a difference for me. When times were bad and that gray car pulled in, he was my hero,” Hobbs said. It’s why he chose this KSP career. He isn’t snowed under by miserable memories. “Anything I can do to prevent a kid from living like I did — I will,” he said. “One mission for me in the state police is to influence kids, teenagers, and anyone to stay away from drugs.”

Keep a nonstop course over the snaking hollow bends — just like Hobbs.

“Set extremely high goals and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from reaching those goals,” he tells teens. He assists Olive Hill police officers arresting a man. A sack of fast food sits in the suspect’s car — bound for two children waiting at home. Concerned the youngsters shall go to bed hungry, Hobbs delivers dinner to the house. The little ones hug him — but grasp their father figure isn’t coming home tonight. This stirs up thoughts of youth.

Hobbs knows life is austere. He worked three jobs in college to gain necessary credits to be a trooper. In the Academy he found family he yearned for. There are six young units patrolling rural Carter County — all devoted brothers united through the same KSP class. He listens to an ally on the radio and drives to him, sensing stress in voice.

“Anything can happen. I hope and pray all of us make it back home, back to our families,” he said. “Being a Trooper is not a task, nor job; it’s a way of life. Troopers take care of business when it needs to be, and we go anyplace at anytime, night or day. Doesn’t matter what call we go to. I feel we’re prepared to take care of anything and everything put in front of us. That’s what we do.”

He’s realizing a lifelong dream. “I always loved and always will love and respect the gray uniform. …We live the color gray. It’s awesome and I wouldn’t change it for anything. But families live it with you.”

Hobbs answers back with a courteous, “Yes, ma’am,” speaking of his newlywed bride and her pledge of steadfastness as he squares away for work. It’s almost Valentines Day — and she stayed up all night to welcome him home safely. It’s a mark of a good state trooper wife. She can’t rest easy until he walks in the front door a little after 4 a.m. She’s a portrait of inspiration, motivation, and power of endurance, waiting patiently for phone calls he’s too busy to return.

“She’s always there for me. I can’t put into words how grateful I am she’s in my life. She made my life a blessing,” he beams in the flash of blue lights, and then graciously asks if he might freely share a one-on-one, public love note. He talks to her: “Thank you for being there for me when I needed you the most,” Hobbs said, settling in for a long night, soldiering onto Soldier.