Judy Izard earned high honors serving in Afghanistan for keeping a supply chain of medicine up and running to troops who fought in remote regions of the country, despite disruptions caused by the enemy.
But her most memorable and trying experiences during her service as an activated citizen-soldier from 2008 to 2009 occurred in the villages where she came in direct contact with the Afghan people who were in dire need of medical care.
"We would set up a medical clinic and would do it quickly because the people would start arriving right away. We worked nonstop for hours," said Izard, a captain in the 427th Brigade Support Battalion stationed at the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo.
Standard medical services for the average Afghan, she said, were woefully inadequate.
"They either do not have clinics or their clinics were not supplied or staffed," Izard said. "If there was care, it was either too expensive for them to pay a doctor or buy the medicine."
And there was always the danger of harm facing Izard and her fellow soldiers. Extensive security perimeters were set up to protect her and other medical personnel from the enemy as they performed their humanitarian missions. Often when traveling back from these missions, she heard explosions from bombs and mortar rounds.
As for the Afghans who received the care, they were never in short suppply of gratitude.
"They tried to give back to us," Izard recalled. "Sometimes they would bring us food; other times they'd bring musicians who played for us, and the children danced."
A mother of two children, Izard said that it broke her heart when babies arrived at the clinics with burns, often from falling into open cooking fires, or suffering from dehydration and dysentery because of a lack of clean drinking water.
But because of the fast pace of military life, Izard explained, she was always on the go, moving from village to village and working at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, where she served at a medical clinic assisting U.S. military personnel and others from NATO's multinational force.
When the Taliban or warlords attacked medical supply lines or when the medicine ran out, Izard said, it was her responsibility to make sure that new supplies were shipped right away.
"There were several attacks on our medical supply chain that would mean supplies would get destroyed or disrupted," Izard said. "These supply lines were to troops in the western part of the country."
For her take-charge dedication in restocking medicine to the supply convoys, she was awarded a Bronze Star.
But she says her husband, Phil Basinski, deserves a medal, too, for taking such good care of their son, Ed, 14, and their daughter, Catie, 11, while she was in harm's way.
"He did a great job. The kids really relied on him for everything while I was gone," Izard said, adding that he also managed to continue running his automotive repair business, Sweeney's on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Tonawanda.
Now she and her family are living with the prospect of Izard's return to Afghanistan.
"We are scheduled to go back in 2012," she said. "We're nervous about it because it is a combat zone, but I will do it if duty calls."
Izard's grandfather, she said, "served in the cavalry at Fort Drum when it was Camp Drum. They actually used horses to pull cannons and other artillery. He also drilled at Camp Smith in the Hudson Valley, and I was just there training."
Her family's military tradition of devotion to country engenders pride in Judy Izard. For generations, there has been a willingness, an eagerness, to serve.
Judy Izard, 44
• Hometown: Kenmore
• Residence: Pendleton
• Branch: Army National Guard
• Rank: Captain
• War zone: Afghanistan, including Kabul, March 2008 to January 2009
• Years of service: 1986-present [originally joined ROTC at Canisius College]
• Most prominent medal: Bronze Star
• Specialty: Pharmacist and medical supply officer
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