John Alderete, United States Army

Base Line Pilot, Air Evac Lifeteam, Corinth MS

John Alderete comes from a family steeped in service to its country. His paternal grandfather served in World War II and his father did two tours in Vietnam. When Alderete was old enough to join the military, he did so to support his young family. He had always wanted to be a police officer but, still under the age of 21, could not apply and chose the Army instead, planning on a career as a Military Policeman (MP).

After serving as an MP and attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant, Alderete was critically wounded. The life-saving actions of the MEDEVAC crew and pilot inspired him to apply for aviation school, training to fly UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Later, he applied for and received a direct commission to become an Aeromedical Evacuation Pilot and logged more than 900 hours and 1,000 MEDEVAC missions in Korea and Afghanistan, 270 of those in combat. After more than 21 years in the Army, he retired in 2021, joining Air Evac Lifeteam in Corinth, Miss., as a Bell 206 helicopter pilot.

“It goes without saying that the Army trained me to be a proficient helicopter pilot, and my time as a MEDEVAC pilot helped me to understand the importance of the job,” said Alderete. “I also believe the Army helped me become better leader, listener and team member. That experience assisted my integration into my Air Evac role.”

Rank Attained
In addition to earning the rank of Staff Sergeant as an MP, Alderete earned the rank of Chief Warrant Officer-3 while flying UH-60 Blackhawks. As an Aeromedical Evacuation Pilot, he earned the rank of Captain, which he held at his retirement from the Army.

Areas Served
Over his distinguished 21-and-a-half year career, Alderete served in and visited many countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, China and Thailand.

Most Interesting Military Experience
“There are too many to mention,” said Alderete. “But I had the privilege of serving with some of the best human beings I will ever meet. While serving as an MP in Iraq I was injured three times in combat, earning three Purple Hearts. The last injury was sustained when my vehicle was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) road side bomb. I sustained multiple shrapnel wounds to the face and blunt force trauma to my head. I was saved by the steadfast flight medics and MEDEVAC pilots who transported me to the trauma hospital in Baghdad. It took a full year to recover, but once I did, I wanted to pay it forward and give back to the mission that saved my life. I applied to become an Army Aviator and dedicated the rest of my career to saving lives.”