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Airman’s ‘Core Value’ involves bone-breaks, deployment, helping the homeless

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Paula Macomber
  • 152AW Public Affairs
The Air Force's "Service Before Self" core value at the 152nd Airlift Wing here in Reno summarizes Airman 1st Class Rita Middleton's life.

Middleton serves in the operations squadron and recently earned "Nevada Air National Guard Airman of the Year" for 2013 with a history of helping others.

"It's a great honor to be nominated and selected to represent the Nevada Air National Guard," said Middleton.

Middleton was struck by a car when she was 13 years old while trying to save the life of her three-year-old God-brother.

Middleton said that she sustained compound fractures to both her tibia and fibula which required rods surgically placed in her leg and screws placed in her knee and ankle. Her God-brother broke his leg. She was told that, if not for her, he would have received worse injuries.

There were several years of physical therapy needed to simply walk again.

"I was an athlete before - playing basketball and running track - so I wanted to work hard to get back to doing that," said Middleton.

Middleton said that she had at least one surgery each year since, which includes the time she was struck in the leg during a basketball tryout. Her surgeries ranged from putting screws in or out, placing or removing rods in her leg, getting bone spurs scraped and having her leg "scoped."

Middleton became physically fit to serve in the military.

"I enlisted to be a part of something bigger than myself and to do something rewarding," said Middleton.

Middleton soon deployed to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"As someone brand new in the military, the deployment was not what I expected," said Middleton. "I didn't expect my contribution to affect the mission. I was mistaken; my job directly affected the mission, and that made an impact on me."

Middleton serves and cooks for the homeless every fourth Monday, attends school assemblies and volunteers in a Head Start classroom on Mondays. She also helps out with The Evelyn Mount Thanksgiving and Christmas food distributions.

"I enjoy volunteering, giving back and inspiring kids and adults that you can make it through life through hard work and dedication," said Middleton.