The Vassallo Interviews — Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor who interviews Oxford’s and our region’s leading personalities.
Steve said, “Lt. Col. Bill Hollowell is truly an American hero in many respects. A combat war veteran who enlisted in the Marines as a young man, and Ole Miss alum, Colonel Hollowell grew up in rural Marshall County and has demonstrated over a lifetime that success is possible under most any circumstances. He and his wife, Annie, have two daughters, Annette, who lives in New Orleans, and Hollie, who followed her father’s footsteps as a current student at Ole Miss.
HT.com — Colonel, you recently retired as Police Chief in Holly Springs, are there similarities between law enforcement and the military?
Colonel Hollowell — “Yes there are. The similarities include leadership skills — you lead by example, and the rules and regulations followed in the military are followed by police. It’s all about service and duty.”
HT.com — What has been your interest in Mississippi politics?
Colonel Hollowell — “The state has progressed over the years since I was a student at Ole Miss in 1973. Since that time, I have stayed abreast and watched the political scene in the state. I am proud of the progress.”
HT.com – What has been the most significant thing you’ve accomplished?
Colonel Hollowell – “The issues of race. The quality of life has improved dramatically. I can remember being raised in the rural part of the county of Marshall and taking polio shots under a shade tree as a child. Great strides have been made in technology and healthcare. Our educational systems have been improved dramatically.”
HT.com — You are in support of Senator Cochran’s re-election. How did you arrive at this decision?
Colonel Hollowell — “I raise cattle and horses. Under the Senator’s leadership, there has been much support in the agricultural areas especially through the USDA programs. Several examples would include would be the programs for soil erosion and hurricane damage. I do not know the Senator personally, but have received letters from him regarding veteran’s affairs. I am disabled and received excellent assistance from his staff and he has always resolved any problem.”
HT.com — What are some of the issues in the upcoming election through your eyes?
Colonel Hollowell — “The excellent track record of Senator Cochran and his service on the Armed Services Committee is a prime example of his leadership. He has been a unifying factor for our state. I would encourage the Senator to continue to improve our public education and to raise our standards in this regard.”
HT.com — What are the contrasting differences between the two candidates, in your view?
Colonel Hollowell — “Mr. McDaniel is too far to the right. I see him as a dividing factor. What I believe is best for Mississippi is that we stay the course that Thad Cochran has set. If we do, we’ll be OK.”
HT.com — What was it like for you growing up in Mississippi in the 1960’s?
Colonel Hollowell — “I attended Catholic schools and always had a positive attitude. However, because of the limited job opportunities after graduating from Ole Miss, I chose to pursue a military career. We are now growing and are more socially equal. Everyone can see the attitude change within our state.”
HT.com — Tell us briefly about your military experience.
Colonel Hollowell — “I was an infantryman in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. It was a life-changing experience for me. You have to trust and rely on your fellow soldiers in order to survive. I developed a stronger belief in country, loyalty, honor and duty as a result. I was involved in a number of live firefights just south of Da Nang. We would be out on patrols for six weeks at a time. I absolutely had doubts that I would ever return. Enlisting in the Marines was an excellent choice that I would do over again.”
HT.com — Let’s fast forward to 2020. What changes would you like to see in Mississippi?
Colonel Hollowell — “I would like to see our tourist industry thrive — especially the Blues Trail. I want to see more job opportunities for those students who complete high school and cannot continue their education for whatever reason. I want to see citizens taking more responsibility for their actions. And I would like to see everyone less dependent upon government.”
HT.com — Describe your life now post military and law enforcement.
Colonel Hollowell — “I own a recreational farm named Fox Fire Ranch which is 13 miles north of Oxford, off Highway 7. We hold weddings and reunions there. On Sunday evenings from 5 to 10 p.m., we have a Blues show that attracts a crowd of all races and is a unifying function. I attend Adolphus Methodist Church in Holly Springs. I consider myself a conservative both socially and fiscally.”
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie.
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