The COVID-19 Pandemic taught many to appreciate those who sacrifice their lives for the safety and wellness of others in more sincere ways. The year 2020 is the Year of the Nurse, and today is Memorial Day. At this time, it behooves us to remember the life of Lieutenant Colonel Janice Marie Butler Ryckeley. A life worthy of celebrating, honoring, and remembering.
The Tar Heel, North Carolina, native, Janice Marie Butler Ryckeley, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Nurse Corps. She arrived into this world on November 25, 1955, Lumberton, North Carolina, to the late Clinton and Margaret Butler of Dublin, NC.
She was an Air Force Veteran, entered into eternal rest on Monday, February 25, 2019 at the age of 63. Janice leaves behind her husband Micheal F. Ryckeley, two sons; Christian Butler Ryckeley and Clinton Micheal Ryckeley, and other friends and family who miss her greatly.
Lieutenant Colonel Ryckeley’s education path started in Bladen County with East Bladen High School and continued with the University Of North Carolina-Greensboro; Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Central Michigan University, Master of Science in Health Services Admin, Chapel Hill, Masters Of Public Health Occupational Health Nursing, and Duke University School of Nursing Adult Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner. She was a North Carolina certified Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (ANP)/licensed RN and a South Carolina licensed Adult Nurse Practitioner in Cardiology.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina in 1980, and her Master of Science degree in Health Services Administration from Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, in 1988. Lt Col Ryckeley is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine Flight Nurse Course, the Nursing Service Management Course, and Air Command and Staff College.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Ryckeley’s Department of the Air Force Fairwell Ceremony documents, she was commissioned directly into the Air Force Nurse Corps, completing her officer orientation in 1981 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. She was then assigned to the USAF Hospital Eglin AFB, Florida, where she served on the surgical and critical care units until 1983. She proceeded to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany as an instructor flight nurse, and flight clinical coordinator where she planned and executed airflight (C-9, C-130, and C-141) missions to include movements of 50 burned Marines from Wiesbaden, GE to Andrews AFB, Maryland, and 39 TWA hostages from Damascus, Syria to Rhein-Main AB, GE until 1985.
Lt. Col. Ryckeley was later assigned to Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Andrews Air Force Base, MD where she served in the air staging facility, coronary care, coronary step down, and hematology-oncology units. Lieutenant Colonel Ryckeley is a proud recipient of the Pearl E. Tucker Award for nursing leadership, excellence in practice, and officership.
In 1988 Lt. Col. Ryckeley moved to USAF Hospital Dover, DE where she served in the emergency room, obstetrics, and nursing quality arenas preparing personnel in emergency and critical procedures and practices. During this assignment, she volunteered and deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Storm where she oversaw the planning, organization, and execution of the 50-bed medical-surgical unit. She planned and prepared the hospital staff for emergency care of casualties who fortuitously never arrived.
In 1991, Lt Colonel Ryckeley was assigned to the 97th Air Medical Group, Altus AFB, OK. There she served in maternal-child care, hospital quality, and risk management, guiding the medical treatment facility through the strategic planning process. Her service in OK led to the successful award of the prestigious Secretary of Defense and Presidential Quality trophies. Certified in healthcare quality, advanced cardiac life support, neonatal resuscitation, and high risk/critical care obstetrics, Lt Colonel Ryckeley’s team laid the foundation process for the successful accreditation of the medical treatment facility by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
In 1995 Lt. Col. Ryckeley was assigned to Scott Air Force Base to the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the Global Patient Movement Requirements Center, United States Transportation Command where she planned and executed patient movements via the air flight missions on C-9, C-141, C-130, and C-21 engaging joint critical care, burn and other specialty teams. In Concert with Air Mobility Command, she inspected, planned, and executed five contracts for the first DoD civilian air ambulance service. Additionally, she served as a functional advisor to the USTRANSCOM SG as she organized 150 DoD users into the first TRAC2ES users group to identify and organize requirements for key acquisition efforts leading to successful source selection.
In August 1998, Lt. Colonel Ryckeley served as branch chief, aeromedical evacuation system integration, staff officer for global mobility requirements and deputy. She organized the first Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) senior leader conference, which led to the first Air Force level validation process for JEFX operational requirements. She served as assessor for the Mobility 2000 initiatives, information for Global Reach “Care in the Air” in JEFX2000. Additionally, she planned and managed the telemedicine requirements for Medical Commando.
On January 5, 2001, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Lieutenant Colonel Ryckely was honored with a Farewell Ceremony for her twenty years of exemplary service to the Air Force.
Lt. Colonel Ryckeley’s decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and Southwest Asia Medals including Liberation of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
After her service in the Air Force, Ryckeley continued to offer her specialties by providing care to patients at Columbia Heart Clinic, in Columbia, SC. She worked as an Acute Care Nurse saving lives to the critically ill. She also was an active member at Dublin First Baptist Church.
She always gave praise and encouragement to those around her. She loved her husband, two sons, other family members, and friends with faithfulness and integrity. In Ryckeley’s retirement ceremony, she quoted two scriptures.
The first is in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
The second is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God…and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
A Celebration of Life Service for Lt. Colonel Ryckley was held on Friday, March 1, 2019, at Bladen Gaskins Funeral Home in Elizabethtown with Rev. Jason Lee officiating. However, Lt. Colonel Janice Ryckeley’s life will continue to be celebrated on days such as these.