UNCG Magazine

A nurse at 30,000 feet: Mary Jo Abernethy

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, UNCG Magazine covered several alumni nurses – in the combat zone, at Ramstein Air Base, and on flights with wounded soldiers.

We recently caught up with Mary Jo Abernethy ’77. The last time we’d spoken, in 2007, she’d mobilized to Germany where she was the senior nurse/flight nurse at the Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Ramstein. She provided care for wounded personnel during the long flights from Afghanistan to Germany. And when the patients were stable enough for the trans-Atlantic crossing, she helped ready the aircraft.

For 20 years Mary Jo was a Flight Nurse with the North Carolina Air National Guard and then the US Air Force Reserve. It’s an awesome responsibility. But she had one mantra all those years: ‘You graduated from UNCG! You can handle this!”

She was promoted to Colonel in 2015.

Since 2008, she has worked at Alamance Regional Medical Center, part of Cone Health System, in the Cardiac/Pulmonary/Oncology Rehab program.

Married for 26 years to Colonel Lawrence “Rocky” Lane, she has traveled worldwide She has won awards for her photography. She was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She is president of the Burlington Woman’s Club. She is a longtime Alumni Board Member for UNCG School of Nursing. As part of the Light the Way campaign, she endowed the Mary Jo Abernethy Scholarship in memory of her parents.

“Nursing is just the best. There’s nothing like it,” she said. “I feel incredibly blessed.”

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