Roat era comes to an end

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stephen Bailey
  • 301st Fighter Wing
Matilda "Tillie" Roat is a person who will tell you what's on her mind even when you're not ready for it. But for those who know and respect her, it's this type of personality and determined spirit that have paved a successful road, opening up opportunities in civil service spanning 45 years. 

But, as it has been said, all good things must come to an end. Tillie Roat, who has served faithfully as the 301st Fighter Wing budget officer, said her final good-bye Sept. 30 following what she describes as a 'fun-filled time of serving the military she loves.' 

"It has been a great ride and a super opportunity to serve the military these many years - it has been a pleasure, but I know it's time," she said. 

The youngest of 10 children, Tillie, a daughter of Chinese parents who grew up in Hawaii, sadly recalls her earliest memory of the military -- that, being that fateful day, Dec. 7, 1941, when her homeland and the U.S. Naval Fleet were attacked at Pearl Harbor. 

"I was just a child being hurried into a bomb shelter but it was something I will never forget," Tillie said. 

Taking into account many of these early experiences, she decided to join the military in 1958 serving in the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as a personnel specialist. It was just two years later that Tillie set her sights on a higher goal of working in civil service. 

"I applied and took the entrance exam and got my first opportunity to work with the Army Corps of Engineers first in Maryland and then in Panama," Tillie said. Following her five-year tour in Panama, she and her husband, Frank, and her children joined the Seventh Bomb Wing in Fort Worth working first as a budget analyst then advancing to budget officer. 

"Even in those early years, Tillie was making an impact in helping to strengthen the relations between the active duty and the Reserve," said Maj. Bobbie Munsell, 301st FW comptroller. "She has always been a team player and a huge asset within the budget career field." 

Her career took a twist in 1993, when the 7th BW left Carswell, giving her the chance to become the 301st FW's budget officer, crossing over from working with the active duty to the Reserve. 

"This wasn't a problem because I was already somewhat familiar with the Reserve and was just glad to be able to continue my civil service work," Tillie explained. 

And work she did. Commanders and coworkers continued to laud her dedication and leadership stating it's been these characteristics that have worked to develop a 'world-class' budget office. Her knowledge and expertise have been invaluable to the success of the overall mission. One coworker even remarked he wished he had just a 'tenth of the knowledge' that Tillie has when it comes to budget policies and regulations. 

Senior Master Sgt. James Chess, III, 301st Finance customer service section chief, has fond memories working with Tillie, describing her as someone who lets you do your job.
"I worked with Tillie in the 7th Bomb Wing when I was a young airman. Years later, when my active duty service was completed, and I was looking for a position in the Reserve, she brought me in ... and I have enjoyed every minute of it. She is a great person to work for and yes, she can be very direct at times, but really, her bark is worse than her bite," he said jokingly. 

For Tillie, the joy, she says, has been the relationships she has developed along the way, many of whom have become true friends. "Tillie is a true-blue person who genuinely cares deeply about the job and the people who work with her. She has a great ability to bring everyone together as a team and focus them on the task at hand," said Major Munsell. 

"She is mother to us all and is a special lady - everyone loves Tillie," Senior Master Sgt. Beverlin Smith, assistant NCOIC of travel pay, said. 

"I truly wish continued success for the 301st Fighter Wing," Tillie said. "It has been my pleasure to serve the greatest fighter wing in the Air Force Reserve." 

For her, the future is still going to be full of excitement - she plans on traveling with her husband and spoiling her three grandchildren and great grandson, Riley. 

And those who have tasted her world-class pineapple upside down cake want her to continue to make many more, bringing them back for the whole wing to enjoy. Thanks Tillie - have a great retirement!
Public Affairs (817) 782-5000