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Norwin siblings get surprise Christmas visit from airman

December 25, 2017 GMT

Two Norwin students got a surprise visit last week and it had nothing to do with someone special making the trip from the North Pole.

Instead, Noelle Radai and her brother, Tyler Radai, both 11-year-olds who attend Hillcrest Intermediate Middle School in North Huntingdon, got a visit last Thursday from a special person down south — their 20-year-old sister, Jourdan Jeffries, an Air Force Reserve airman 1st class stationed in Texas. To meet them at school, she had flown overnight to Pittsburgh from Texas, where she is undergoing training as a medical technician.

Jeffries said she wanted to surprise Noelle, a sixth-grader, and Tyler, a fifth-grader, by showing up at their school without any advance warning.

Hillcrest Intermediate Middle School Principal Brian O’Neil played a role in the surprise visit, going to Noelle’s and Tyler’s classrooms and telling them they were to accompany him to the principal’s office. Unknown to them, Jourdan was waiting in a room with blinds covering the window.

Plenty of hugs were exchanged as the surprised siblings shed tears of joy after the door opened and they saw their sister, dressed in her uniform, waiting for them.

“I thought you would not be home until Saturday,” Noelle Radai said after recovering from the shock of seeing her at school.

It was the first time that Jeffries had been home since joining the Air Force Reserves in March 2017. Since the last time they saw her, Jeffries had graduated from an intensive basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas, according to the Air Force.

Jeffries’ journey into the military after graduating in 2016 from Hempfield Area High School included stints at a retail sales job and taking nursing classes at the Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood.

“I wanted to go into medicine, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into the military,” said Jeffries, daughter of Joy Radai and stepdaughter of Jason Radai of North Huntingdon.

She’s glad she did join the Armed Forces, saying it has made her a more disciplined person and better at managing her time.

“I love the family aspect of it. You feel you are part of something bigger. I have no regrets at all,” about joining the military, Jeffries said.

Jeffries will remain on active duty until April, at which time she wants to continue her medical training.

“I want to be a labor-delivery nurse. I love babies,” Jeffries said.

Being part of the military has made her have a greater appreciation of those who are serving and have served their country, Jeffries said.

“I never knew behind the scenes what military members have to go through to serve their country. I’m especially honored to be in the service.”

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.