Jane Anne Lombardi born in Stockton, California on October 5, 1943 to Fred and Frances Lombardi who were long time cattle ranchers. She graduated from Escalon High School in 1961 where she excelled in academics and was active in band and drama.
Jane developed a great interest, in nursing while in high school as she had worked as a nurses’ aide at a small hospital near her home. Consequently, upon graduation, she enrolled in Saint Francis Hospital School of Nursing in San Francisco and graduated as a Registered Nurse in June, 1964. She was eager to continue her education and complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing but was drawn by something leading her to join the military. Her concern for the young Americans fighting in Vietnam and the appeal of Flight Nurse training led to her decision to join the United States Air Force … a decision she never regretted. Jane joined the USAF Nurse Corps in September, 1965 and began active duty in January, 1966 at Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia where she pursued her desire to become a Flight Nurse. She was accepted into Flight Nurse training at the School of Aviation Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base in Houston, Texas and volunteered for duty in Vietnam, requesting a position on flying status. Jane was assigned to the 57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Her primary duty was that of Flight Nurse aboard C-141 Starlifter aeromedical support aircraft.
On January 30, 1968, Jane was assigned to fly a mission into Da Nang Air Base to evacuate the wounded while the base was under heavy enemy attack. “When we landed we found that the Viet Cong had infiltrated the base. We came under fire at once. It was heavy. Someone right next to the aircraft was hit. There were helicopters in the air tracking down and firing on the VC.” In spite of the harassment 38 patients, 26 of whom were unable to walk, were loaded aboard, the large jet aircraft and flown to safety and medical care.
For her actions on that day, Jane received the Bronze Star Medal making her one of the first women ever to receive the medal for meritorious achievement, under fire, during a military operation involving conflict with opposing foreign forces. Her citation read in part: “...while exposed to extreme danger from hostile small arms’ fire, Jane exhibited extraordinary and outstanding professional skill and personal calm while emplaning patients...”
Jane was decorated with other medals as well. She was presented with the Air Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal by 5 Star General Bruce Holloway for other actions in Vietnam. In addition she received the Outstanding Unit Award, The National Defense Service Medal, the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon.
It was also during this time that Jane was flown to New York City to receive the 1969 AMITA (American-Italian) Women of Achievement Award as one of 12 American Women throughout the U.S. who distinguished themselves in their respective fields of endeavor. Past winners of the award include such notables as Ann Bancroft, Connie Francis, Carol Lawrence, and Liz Trotta. Jane flew over 70 missions evacuating the sick and wounded from the front lines in Vietnam. Her work carried her all over the world from Vietnam to Okinawa to Guam, Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, and to the east and west coasts of the United States. She once commented: “Although the work of a Flight Nurse may seem glamorous to some people ... it is hard work. It is not only physically, but emotionally fatiguing.” But she added that it was “without doubt the most rewarding and personally satisfying work ...” she had ever hoped to accomplish.
After many more years of nursing in the private sector, Jane came home to retire on the family farm. Along with her deep love for nursing Jane also loved animals. Any dog, cat, or bird that came by her home was cared for with great affection. Her two favorite cats, “Frickaroo” and “Lucy Van Pelt” will miss her dearly as will her family and friends.
Jane is survived by a sister Mary Kress (Bob), brothers Tony (Joan) and Joe (Cheri) Lombardi, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was buried in Stockton Rural Cemetery on November 22, 2016 in a private ceremony as was her wish. Donations, in her honor, may be made to the charity of your choice.
The Escalon (Calif.) Times
Dec. 7, 2016