Joel Holdford is originally from Arkansas near a small town called Rison, where he grew up on a small farm. Like most of his friends, Joel liked to hunt, fish and learned to shoot proficiently at a young age. Early on, Joel knew he wanted to serve in the Armed forces. In High School, he joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps or JROTC, where his interest in the US Army was nurtured. Joel obtained the rank of Cadet Captain and was awarded the Best Company Commander award his senior year. Joel had his mother sign for him to enter the US Amy Reserves during his Senior year with the goal of going to College and becoming an officer through the ROTC program.
Unfortunately, due to finances, Joel realized that college was not achievable, so in 1987 he enlisted in the US Army for three years as an Infantry Soldier. Joel served as a Battalion Scout/Sniper for the 2/327 Inf, 101ST Airborne Division, A Fire Team Leader in the 1/503Inf, 2nd Infantry Division Korea, and Squad Leader in the 1/22nd Inf, 10th Mountain Division. Joel loved being a Scout in the 101st; he learned patrolling, air assault operations and graduated from the 101st Sniper course and Air Assault School. In Korea, he performed a Team Spirit Exercise and was the Assistant Patrol Leader during the 3-month deployment to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Joel also graduated from the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) at Camp Jackson and the 2nd Inf Div sniper course while in Korea.
While in the 10th Mountain Div, Joel volunteered to go to Desert Storm and was part of the 18th Airborne Corp’s left flanking swing across Iraq. Joel led numerous unmounted patrols “outside the wire” without casualties, always completing the mission. After extending his contract twice, Joel left the Army in Sep 1991 for personal reasons.
After his time in the Army, Joel naturally was drawn to Law Enforcement, specifically SWAT. Joel went to his first basic SWAT course in 1993 and became a member of his first SWAT team; he attended an additional Basic and Advanced SWAT course in Texas. Joel was later elected to be the entry team leader by his team, a position in which he served until he left the agency and moved to the Mid-Atlantic region. Once established on his second SWAT Team, Joel attended several other SWAT schools, including High-Risk Entry and several SWAT leadership courses. Joel was quickly selected as the Assistant Team Commander and later as the Commander of the Team. After 20 years in SWAT, Joel was selected to be the Chief of Police, a position he served in for eight years until his recent retirement.
In 2019 Joel volunteered to deploy as a Department of the Army Civilian in support of the war effort in Afghanistan. Joel was selected, completed his training, and was sent to Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as the Director of Operations for the Afghanistan Support Group. During his time at KAF, Joel became very ill and, after four months, had to be medically evacuated back to the United States, where it was confirmed he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Joel underwent a series of chemotherapy for six months and went into remission. Joel returned to his position as Chief of Police, but in less than a year, the Cancer returned. After an additional series of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, Joel is back in remission.
Joel is a man of faith and has served as a Deacon and School Board Member at a Christian School for several years. Joel is married to his beautiful wife Amber of eighteen years and has five children, two whom currently serve in the military, US Coast Guard, and Air Force.