Veteran runs city clerk's office
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and it is appropriate that this week's profile subject is also a veteran. In fact John Angel is still in the military service, although he now serves as Brewton City Clerk.
Angel was born in Bogota, Colombia, South America to a Colombian father and and American mother. They met while he was in the United States on a fellowship to Yale. His mother was from Northampton, Mass. After their marriage they returned to South America where Angel was born. The marriage did not last as his mother was never happy in Bogota. She and her son returned to America and lived for a while in Washington, D.C. and then to Northampton where he attended school. He graduated from Northampton High School in 1971 and was accepted at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He entered the ROTC program and at the end of four years received a degree in psycology and a a commission as a Second Lieutenant, field artillery officer.
His graduating class had prepared to go to Vietnam but in April of 1975 Saigon fell and he was sent to Germany instead for his first tour of duty. He was an officer in an eight inch battalion in Kitzingen, Germany as part of the First Battalion, 76th Field Artillery.
After his return from Germany, Angel went to Fort Sill, Okla. and then to Fort Rucker, Ala. to attend flight school. He graduated in 1980 on the night that President Ronald Reagan was elected. He received training in flying helicopters, mostly the "Huey" which was the common helicopter used in Vietnam. He later went to Fort Campbell, Ken., with the 101st and flew Blackhawks. He spent a year in Korea between two tours at Fort Campbell in 1983 and 1984.
When he was up for promotion to major he was still a reserve officer on active duty. He was returned to the inactive reserves and was unemployed for a while until he received a call from a friend saying that there was an opening for an instructor at Fort Rucker. He moved to Fort Rucker in 1988 and in 1989 was appointed to major in the national guard.
He had been married and had two children by this time, but in 1989 her and his first wife were divorced. They still live in Enterprise where his daughter works at Humana Medical Center and his son is in school.
During the years 1989 and 1999, Angel spent in the national guard, but five of those ten years were spent on active duty. The regular army had begun to down size in the 1980s. More and more of the reserve and national guard units were being used
He applied for a position in the national guard unit and became active duty guard at the point. In 1995, he heard about a program called Partnership for Peace where emerging democracies of the old Warsaw Pact once ruled by Russia were wanting to join NATO.
They were requesting help and the state national guard through the state department were sending teams into the countries to help prepare them to join the world organizations. The headquarters was in Stuttgart and under the command of the military. All the teams were made up of members of all branches of the military. Angel was sent into Romania to meet with the staff and given a whirlwind tour of the country in 1995. He trained at UCOM in Stuttgart and went to Bucharest, Romania.
It was during this time that he met his current wife, Rodica, who was a security guard at the U.S. Embassy. He received a promotion to Colonel in the national guard and married Rodica. They came back to Alabama and set up household in Homewood near his headquarters, but now he needed a full-time job. He saw an opening for city clerk in Brewton and thought it would be a good opportunity.
Angel came to Brewton in 1999 and settled into his present job. He drilled for a while with a unit in Pensacola but went into the Individual Ready Reserve. He will retire in May 2005 with 30 years of military service having served in Korea, Panama, Germany and Romania. He just missed the war in Vietnam, Desert Storm and the invasion of Grenada.
He is the custodian of city records and works at the will of the mayor and city council. He works with many other department heads to keep the city running. His title of city clerk and treasurer means that he handles the purse strings of the budget of both his office and other departments in the city government.
Other employees in the Clerk's office are very complementary to Angel.
Cindy Elmore, the Revenue clerk agreed. "He loves to eat and tell jokes. He's easy to work with."
Angel lives with his wife, Rodica who works at The Brewton Standard; his mother-in-law, Tamara Prusan; Rodica's son, Iulian Alba and several dogs. They are both dedicated to saving White German Shepherds. They take the ones that have been abandoned and are in serious medical condition. The Angels take the dogs in and when they are healthy again they are adopted by loving people who will take care of them.