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Carol Noriega will not be able to celebrate Christmas at home with her husband this year. The La Roche College junior currently enrolled in the College’s nursing program is also in the Air Force Reserves. In November, the government activated her unit, the 911th Air Medical Evacuation Squadron based in Pittsburgh. She will be spending the next four months in Germany.

“We are going to be sent on different missions to pick up patients and transport them to other areas,” said Noriega, who serves as a flight nurse in the armed forces and is employed as a registered nurse at Shadyside Hospital. “Some of the areas we will go to are Kuwait and Iraq. We will also be transporting patients to the United States. We may also have to go to Afghanistan.”

Noriega will have to delay her education to complete her mission. Currently, she is enrolled in the RN (registered nurse) to BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing) completion program at La Roche. The breast cancer survivor has already pondered the dangers before her since many of her missions will take her to hostile parts of the world.

“I know who my enemy is, and I’m trained for situations like that,” said Noriega, who admits that she is apprehensive despite the preparation that soldiers undergo. “My future is not in my hands, and I can’t perceive what is going to happen.”

The Clinton, PA, resident and Gulf War I veteran comes from a family of men who served their nation. Her father is a World War II veteran, her brother served in Vietnam and her uncle is a retired Naval officer.

“The country needs to have people that are willing to fight for them. Somebody has to do it, “ said Noriega.

Members of the 911th expect to return home at the end of March. Noriega plans to continue pursuing her degree once she completes her call to serve.

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