Retired colonel never slows down, never stops serving


It’s a good thing that retired Air Force Col. Gary Eppler believes in a “never stop serving” philosophy.

As the latest president of the Military Officers’ Association of America Cape Canaveral Chapter (MOAACC), Eppler has a lot of working days to look forward to in the future.

With approximately 1,400 members, the chapter is the largest in the country. It is an extremely active organization, with plenty of community projects and advocacy programs. Eppler relishes the challenges of the job.

“The best part of MOAACC is that it keeps you busy for many very good causes and projects. And, you are always meeting new people,” said Eppler, who moved to Indian River Colony Club in 2015.

Bred, born and raised in Kansas, Eppler was an all-around student who excelled at everything he did, be it class president, football captain, yearbook photographer, and Honor Society member. When the time came to seek employment, Eppler didn’t hesitate from tackling a variety of jobs while attending Pratt Junior College thanks to a football scholarship. He sold and serviced office machines, worked in a mortuary, was a roughneck in the oil fields, and even custom cut wheat one year.

During his two years at Washburn University, Eppler continued with a turbo-charged work ethic that had him holding three jobs — bartending, janitorial service and dishwashing — at once.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he took a position as comptroller trainee for three Sears stores and later became a traveling auditor for Sears throughout Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico.

Eppler joined the United States Air Force in 1966 and served America’s flying service until he retired in 1992. He took over the MOAACC reins in January of this year and has been a member of the national association since 1992.

His military service focused on aircraft maintenance, supply, transportation and logistics during assignments that took him from the Pentagon to Europe. With four overseas tours and 13 U.S. tours under his belt, Eppler was twice selected as a commander. Always the earnest worker, he also earned his master’s degree in international relations while stationed in Europe.

He developed the Air Force Aircraft Battle Damage Repair general technical order for all Air Force and Navy aircraft and also managed a foreign military sales program with Saudi Arabia.

In 1989, Gary and wife, Alice, bought Hockridge Florist. To better serve the community, he became a certified FTD Master Florist Manager. The couple owned the shop until 1998, when they decided to move to Pratt, Kan., where he had been raised and where friends and family beckoned.

Throughout his career, Eppler has been a joiner. He has served with the Optimist Club, the Elks and the Rotarians, among others.

He served in the Air Force, but his hobbies are more attuned to the ocean. During the little spare time he can muster, Eppler enjoys swimming, doing water aerobics, scuba diving and cruising.

Now at the helm of MOAACC, Eppler will continue to “never stop serving.”

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