Flor Longoria interviewed Nurse Judy Alexaitis at Del Rio High School on November 12, 2004. Nurse Judy served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. She participated in Desert Storm and majored in nursing. She served her country in many ways. She got married and had a family and after 20 years of serving our country she was employed at the Del Rio High School as a health occupations teacher.
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FL: What war did you serve in? JA: Hi! Iím Judy Alexaitis the health occupations teacher. Iím 54 years old and I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years. The war I participated in was Desert Storm and I went to England to set up a field hospital where we took care of victims that came out Saudi Arabia uh in route to Germany eh who in tern were going to be sent back to the United States for surgery and further follow up. So I was in Desert Storm in 1990.
FL: What position were you in?
JA: Uh the position I held at Desert Storm was that I had a 25 bed hospital unit an orthopedic bone unit and the uh the orthopedic doctors and the medics were working with me and I was the charge nurse of that medical unit. Um we got casualties in where a lot of the troops had fractures and we would uh splint their fractures. Um help them get into the best physical state of as possible after coming out of the desert and then airovact them on to Germany where they would be furthered airovacted back airovact back to the states. So I had a 25 bed um medical surgical mostly orthopedic patient casualties in Desert Storm.
FL: What branch were you in?
JA: I was in the United States Air Force.
FL: Did you win any medals?
JA: Uh, no I didnít get any medals and I wasnít injured myself. I did receive uh special congratulation letter um from my troop commander and also um I was given a special uh Desert Storm patch that I could wear um on my uniform, but as far as any actual medal um I did not receive one.
FL: How was war?
JA: Well um if Saddam Hussein had continued um causing problems for us in the first Desert Storm War um I wasnít getting prepared for them to move me to either a naval ship out in the gulf or to the front line um Medical Hospitals there in Saudi Arabia um but I instead stayed at my field unit um in England for three months and um I would say the casualties I saw um were pretty bad. The soldiers were had very high moral um Iíll be honest when I found out I was on the list the top of the list to get forwarded to the front I was nervous. Um of course Iím I was always prepared to die to my country um if I had to. My family always knew that that when I went away to war I may not return. So I had to make all the arrangements and make my will and and uh my husband had full custody of the children. Um I felt good about it. I felt like I made the soldiers uh that were injured feel more comfortable um we helped them bathe even though they had multiple casts on their bodies. Um I felt like I was doing my fair share uh to serve my country. I feel everyone should serve their country um to a l for a little while. In fact Iím an avigate that every young person in America when they graduate from high school um serve one or two years in a military um branch of their choice. And Iím just always a very proud patriot however I was really glad to get back home to my family when the war was over.
FL: Do you wish you could serve again?
JA: Well, uh in my younger time um yes when I was better physically fit and not over weight like I am yes. Also when I got out of the Air Force in 1992 I was in I had the potential that I could be called up at any time for ten years after my retirement date. So that retirement date of 1992 the ten years after uh was over in the year 2002 so now I would not be called back up to service. Um if we had an all out war I would help in local hospitals in local military hospitals and be a volunteer nurse um but I would not be called up back to active duty and I would not want to go back to the front line because Iím not physically fit and Iím somewhat over weight and I think younger people um could do a better job than myself now that Iím 54 years old going on 55.
FL: Did you attend any college after you served?
JA: Well no, um to be an officer in the United States Air Force um youíve had to have gone to college. I graduated from Chester County Hospital School of Nursing and West Chester State University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Um I graduated uh in September of 71. Um now in the military I attended uh Air Command and Staff College to get more military experience and I completed Squadron Officer School and I attended a three-month Nursing Management School. I got additional college credits for all those things if I decided to pursuit a masterís degree um but I had already had my training my initial training to be able to be accepted into the United States Air Force Nurse Core as an officer.
FL: What did you major in?
JA: Um, my major was in nursing.
FL: Where are you from?
JA: Iím um from um Coatesville, Pennsylvania uh, which is about 100 miles west of Philadelphia. Um I lived in a very small house out in the country. Um my father was a steel mill worker for 40 years. He worked shift work for 40 years, carried his sandwich with him all that time during shift work. My mother was a secretary in a local school district. So both my parents worked and my sister and I um my sister is four years older than myself um we had to do the chores and the cooking and the cleaning and I even had to help mow the grass and my father grew fresh vegetables. I never had a canned food until I was 21 years of age. Everything I ate growing up was fresh from the garden or frozen fresh from the garden. So it wasnít until I moved away from home that I actually had something from a can and I went ooww canned peas arenít the same as frozen peas from my fatherís garden.
FL: Have you lived anywhere else other than Del Rio?
JA: Well when I joined the Air Force well prior to joining the Air Force, I left home after I graduated from Nursing School and I worked a year in a nursing home uh Baptist Nursing Home um in Mount Lebon in uh Pennsylvania which is near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After a year I I the Vietnam War was going on and I felt very patriotic I wanted to go to Vietnam and help the soldiers so I joined the Air Force in 1992. My first assignment was in Egland Air Force Base in Fort Walt Walton Beach, Florida so it was right along the gulf. It was a beautiful assignment. After a year there, I was nominated to go to Flight Nursing School where I went to a three-month program where I could I learned how to ca uh care for sick people in the air in our uh medical aircraft plane that could transfer patients. It was like a hospital uh in the sky. Um after I completed that training, I was sent to Goose Bay Labrador on a years assignment to be a medical surgical nurse um I was still second lieutenant at that time. I worked a year up in Goose Bay Labrador where um there was snow on the ground all year and so at times vehicles had to transport us um through the snow to get from our dormitories to the hospital, but the Canadian people up in Labrador were really wonderful. And I grew up in the northeast where there was snow, so the snow year around uh did not bother me like it did some other nurses. After that assignment they sent me to Looke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona where I was for a year. I was a surgical nurse there for a year and I liked that assignment but going from the snow to the desert was an adjustment. Um after that I was stationed um four years at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas. After that assignment I was sent to uh Shall Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina for four years. After that assignment I was sent back to Del Rio at Laughlin Air Force Base for four years and after that assignment, my last assignment I was transferred from Laughlin Air Force Base here in Del Rio to Wilfred Hall Medical Center, the largest Air Force fac medical facility in San Antonio, Texas. Um an assignment that I avoided my whole career and I ended up liking that assignment uh in a very busy medical unit over at Wilfred Hall Medical Center. I liked that assignment it was my favorite out of all my assignments the 20 years I served in the Air Force.
FL: Are you married?
JA: Iím married um Iím married um and we have four children um our oldest son is in the Border Patrol in Laredo and our next to the oldest child is a girl Dana she is a government employee up at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo um our next to the youngest son Darol is an insurance salesman uh for um Afflack quack quack um Afflack in Orlando, Florida. He also is, he used to be manager at a local Wal-Mart store um and then he was a stockbroker for Shuab um Stocks Mutual Funds and then he decided he wanted to be independent and worked out of his house so heís selling medical insurance and doing very well. Our youngest son is trying to get out of college over at Texas A&M Corpus Christi where heís either going to be an English teacher or a Border Patrol agent uh himself. And I also have um eleven cats, six dogs, two talking parrots, a Betta fish, and twenty-eight goats uh Nanny goats that are going to have either twins or triplets this spring and I have one Billy goat whoís the daddy of all herds so I have lots of animals at my house.
FL: How did you meet your husband?
JA: Uh my husband was in the Air Force as an Air Force pilot and I was an Air Force nurse and he was retired and I was retired and Muscular Dystrophy uh had an auction here in town and it was a date package auction where I put my date package up for auction. There were 10 bachelors and 10 bachelorettes up for auction and my husband bid on my date package. He paid $275 dollars um that money went to Muscular Dystrophy and then I had to take him out on a date. We were the only couples that ended up liking each other and getting married um several years later. So I met my husband when he bid for a date with me at an auction.
FL: Where are you employed?
JA: Um I, after I got out of the Air Force in 1992 I became a school nurse for the school district and I was the school nurse at Ruben Chavira Elementary School for two years. I loved teaching the little kids and when Mr. Fernandez who is now our superintendent knew how much I liked to teach, he asked if I would start the health careers program here at the high school so I started a brand new program uh nine years ago. The programs grown from one teacher to four teachers and we now have the nurse aide certification and the EMT certification program and so now Iíve been in the school district for 11 years. So I get my Air Force retirement, a nice paycheck every month for the rest of my life and I hope in a couple of years to be retired as a school teacher so that would be my second retirement check, and then when I get old enough to get social security I will have my third check coming in. So the message here is help others get a good job so you can have bling bling too in your older age.
FL: Thank you Nurse Judy