Though her job appellation at the San Antonio Zoo is veterinary administrator, Kristie Gonyea aback begin herself captivation a flamingo in her arms
It was alone her aboriginal anniversary on the job, but she was advertent that it’s all calmly on accouter aback it comes to caring for animals at the zoo’s bloom affliction center.
A veterinarian had alleged on Gonyea as she advised the eye of the gangling blush bird in the architecture above beastly habitats and animal guests.
Usually, Gonyea’s assignment involves entering medical abstracts and lab after-effects of the center’s patients. Recently, those accept included a South American backcountry dog, a mustached monkey and a babyish gazelle Gonyea helped canteen feed.
The administrator’s duties are a far cry from her accomplished responsibilities as a aboriginal baker in the Air Force. But in some respects, caring for the abundance of others has consistently played a big role in her life. And she’s acclimatized to administration emergencies.
“I was a fleet mom,” said Gonyea, 49. “Your mom’s the one aback you do article great, she wants to be there, and aback you do article bad, she’s got to be there. Everyday it was article different. They were all my kids.”
In 2018, Gonyea retired as a chief adept baker afterwards 25 years in the Air Force. For bristles years, she served as a aboriginal sergeant, amenable for the care, conduct and mentoring of airmen, aboriginal at Travis AFB in California and again at Ramstein Air Abject in Germany. Additionally referred to as “first shirts,” these sergeants act as a communication amid commanders and the unit, advising on issues apropos the squadron’s airmen.
The aboriginal sergeant’s adage is “People are our business and our business is people.”
She enlisted in the Air Force in 1993, aloof as her parents had aback she was a toddler. She affiliated her husband, David Gonyea, additionally an airman in the medical career field. At the end of her four-year commitment, she re-enlisted. The family’s assignment assignments accept included Yokota Air Abject in Japan; Barksdale AFB in Louisiana; and Keesler AFB in Mississippi.
It was while confined at the Gulf Coast abject in 2005 that Gonyea’s ancestors had a life-changing experience. The family’s abode was one of hundreds destroyed in the adverse deathwatch of Hurricane Katrina.
With their accouterments abysmal in 18 anxiety of water, the ancestors bare help. Assistance came from aboriginal baker Adept Sgt. Rob Thompson, who guided the ancestors during the foreclosure of their home and their alteration to Travis.
The time and affliction the aboriginal baker committed to her ancestors aggressive her.
“He took affliction of me through the affliction time,” she said, “ So, I thought, I’m activity to accord back. I capital be like that.”
Thompson took her beneath his addition and recommended her for the position, but applying for the appropriate assignment prompted a ancestors meeting. Afterwards answer the job requirements, her son Conrad, again 10, said, “Everybody needs a mom.”
She adumbral two aboriginal sergeants afore accessory a three-week advance at the USAF Aboriginal Baker Academy at Maxwell AFB, Gunter Annex in Alabama. Afterwards graduation, she affianced on the aboriginal baker chevron with a design that represents the accomplished accepted of chief enlisted members.
She’s sat in courtrooms for court-martials and had to bond bodies out of jail. There were buzz calls that jarred her alive to bear emergency Red Cross letters apropos the deaths of admired ones. No amount the crisis, she was there to let airmen apperceive addition was there to help.
Then there was the late-night alarm from a hospital that still all-overs her. An airman who had been assaulted was at the David Grant USAF Medical Centermost at Travis, in charge of an MRI scan. Aback she accustomed at the emergency room, the afflicted airman lay unconscious, coiled on a gurney. She abstruse that he had addled his arch on the arena and had a academician hemorrhage.
With his ancestors six hours away, she waited as he underwent surgery. She sat with him in the accelerated affliction unit, not abiding if he’d alive through the night. Aback a new about-face assistant saw the white aboriginal baker captivation the duke of the afflicted African-American airman, she alleged Gonyea into the hall.
“Only actual ancestors can be here,” the assistant said.
“Until his mother gets here,” Gonyea told the nurse, “I’m his mother.”
Then she alternate to the airman’s bedside.
While the abrogating moments tend to angle out, she said they were calmly outnumbered by the absolute ones. She witnessed abounding promotions and accolade ceremonies, and she still remembers the joy of captivation a adolescent changeable airman’s newborn. She was at the woman’s ancillary afore her ancestors could be there.
It was a ancestors accommodation to retire the diamond.
During dinner, the buzz rang with addition alarm to duty. Her son airtight his calmly on the table and said, “Really mom? Addition DUI appropriate now?”
“He had lived it all with us,” Gonyea said. “He had been there, in the average of the night, whenever I had to go.”
After retirement, she activated for and was assassin for a part-time position at the zoo’s associates office. Aback the animal ability appointment saw her resume, it encouraged her to administer for the veterinary ambassador position at the bloom center.
Gonyea loves her job. She’s not on alarm and works approved hours from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. She updates her dad, her better cheerleader, three times a anniversary about the latest bristling or bristling patient.
Animal hospital administrator Isabel García-Treviño, 35, said accepting addition with Gonyea’s absorbing accreditation has been a additional for the office.
“Everyday she’s actuality is consistently fun and exciting,” García-Treviño said. “She consistently has a way to tie things aback to her history. We absolutely absence her aback she’s not here.”
Vincent T. Davis is a anchorman in the Greater San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our chargeless site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | [email protected] | Twitter: @vincentdavis
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