Community profile: Lisa Hatch | Rio Blanco Herald Times

Life presents unique challenges which require courage in the face of exceptional circumstances. Courage to face battle — knowingly entering a fight for righteousness — elevates courage to valor. Valor is a particular type of courage that demands heart and character. To face a conflict that may result in trauma, to accept the challenge and control the fear was part of the journey for Lisa Hatch (USAR MAJ Retired) during her 21 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves. Hatch has a unique “God-given” gift of leadership and courage that inspires those who know or work with her.

Hatch has also served Rangely in many capacities. Although she and her husband Larry moved to the Salt Lake City area last year, she is still the secretary for The TANK Center for Sonic Arts. For eight years, she was a member of the Town’s Board of Trustees. In her service for the Rio Blanco County Economic Development department, she helped create the Master Trails Plan. Hatch also served on the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado for eight years, one as chairperson and seven as a director. Hatch was the first president of the Rangely Community Gardens and served in that role for several years and as a consultant for several more. She has served the VFW Post 5261 in multiple positions and as VFW Colorado District 9 Commander. When a task is asked of her, she steps up.

In 1990-1991 Hatch was commander of the 419th Transportation Company (Medium Truck Petroleum) — the company hauled fuel on the front line for the 2nd Armored Calvary (2ACR), 1st and 3rd Armored Divisions (1AD, 3AD). Despite the fact she was selected because the Major General (MG Donald Bagley) knew they could be mobilized and wanted the best leadership, as the first woman commander of this unit, she faced unpleasant adversity. Only 1-2% of units like hers were women. Those she commanded often gave her a hard time and even attempted to take her life, as many did not accept women in the military, especially in leadership or combat. The acceptance of women in combat began to change after Desert Storm in 1993, although disrespect and criminal actions against them continue.

Thanks to the flexibility of the Army Reserves, Hatch could employ creative methods in her leadership position that allowed her to support her soldiers with a style that strengthened their team model. Included was an experience with the 449th Petroleum Supply Company, where she offered compassion and a fresh start to the leaders and soldiers of her company. The changes in attitude and teamwork were extraordinary. Before Hatch was qualified, she performed a simulation test to determine how she could perform on the front lines. Her performance and ability to bring the most soldiers home ultimately qualified her. She expressed pride in her success in getting all of the soldiers under her command home after the real-life performance on the front lines was complete. The 172 who served with Hatch were well-trained and did an exceptional job in their service to their armored units. She gives the highest praises to her soldiers.

Hatch’s desire to serve began at 14 as she watched her brothers enlist. She participated in the Junior ROTC program with a close friend during high school, and when she enlisted she entered with an advanced rank of Private First Class/E-3. In addition to her advanced rank, Hatch maxed her Army physical fitness test and received the “Super Jock” title and patch. She thrived in basic training and loved being a soldier. Arriving home from Basic Training, she entered the ROTC program at Weber State College under the Early Commissioning option. This program allowed her to skip the first two years of ROTC classes because of her prior service. She then enrolled in the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP), which allowed her to serve in an Army Reserve Unit while participating in ROTC. Hatch served with the 650th Personnel Services Company (PSC) in Ogden, Utah, and said she had great examples of leadership to follow. At 21, she worked with 3M Health Information Systems and was a top performer and team leader. She accepted every opportunity to learn and improve her leadership skills and has sincere and profound gratitude for the opportunities provided to her.

Hatch was recently recognized for her military service by the Rangely Quilters, who presented her with the Quilt of Valor (made by Julie Cramer). Despite her successes, Hatch did not leave combat unscathed. She is on a journey to heal from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the attempts on her life and has begun to share the details of her story to those closest to her. In her own words, she shared, “I have to say that much of my healing has been because of my faith and the grace and mercy of a loving Heavenly Father and our loving Savior Jesus Christ!” She hopes her story will support other women who have experienced horrors in combat. She was not the only person who faced these circumstances.

In 2020, adversity came again when Lisa and her husband, Larry, both were ill with COVID-19. Hatch met this challenge and used it to help her receive the care she needed for Small Cell Lung Disease, which was the ultimate cause of her retirement from the Army Reserves. She endured six months of pulmonary therapy and bounced back strong.

Thanks, honor and respect are due to Hatch for her service, leadership and courageous example of overcoming adversity.

By KATIE KING | Special to The Herald Times