Sometimes when a fellow veteran falls, they deserve a special tribute, and this is the case with U.S. Air Force veterans Judith Hatch.
I met Hatch while serving as the Phoenix VA Public Affairs Officer. She was fiery in her representation of her American Legion and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapters. She was adamant that if a veteran reached out to her in need, she would do her utmost to help them.
After completing Women in the Air Force (WAF) training, Judy Hatch was assigned to a Military Air Transport Services unit at Travis Air Force Base in California. She served on active duty from 1961to 1962. She continued her military career in the Air National Guard for two more decades from 1972 to 1992. At that time, she was the first enlisted single parent. Hatch retired as a Master Sergeant.
When a group of volunteers decided they wanted to give back to our veterans through the gift of song, Hatch came to my office. She explained what their group wanted to do for this activity, including practicing weekly at the VA, coordinating their choral presentations to our veterans in the Nursing Home and on the wards, and performing for patients as they came through the VA outpatient lobby. Knowing that there are many roads to help our veterans, I advocated supporting the group. We created a brand for them with the name “VA Voices” we bought them patriotic red, white, and blue shirts with the VA Voices logo and helped them schedule their activities within the hospital. When there were outside activities where I thought the VA Voices could garner some exposure, we booked them. They sang for many years at the Veterans Day Parade opening ceremonies, Lori Piestewa recognition events, and City Hall. Hatch was thrilled, and one could often find her in the front row of the choral group, giving her all.
Another significant contribution she made to our community was hosting the annual Pearl Harbor Day recognition ceremony at Wesley Bolin Plaza. Hatch invited numerous organizations to place wreaths at the anchor of the USS Arizona, worked with the team to secure music for the event, obtained flyovers, invited dignitaries speakers, and she did so much more. The event was under her leadership for more than a decade.
Judith Hatch died at the age of 79 on Christmas Day 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her ashes will later be interred at the Military Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. She was a founding member of the Military Women’s Memorial.