Nicole Malachowski is a powerful woman. After graduating from the U.S Air Force Academy, she became an F-15E fighter pilot who flew missions in Iraq, commander of the 333rd Fighter Squadron, and the first female pilot in the elite Thunderbirds demonstration squadron. She is married and the mother of twins. In 2019 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Malachowski was a highly decorated “full bird” colonel when she was forced to leave military service due to health issues. But it wasn’t a combat injury that cut short her career: It was a tick.
At 43 years old “I was declared ‘100 percent unfit for duty’ and was medically retired,” she says. She was utterly debilitated: bedridden, housebound, barely able to stand, walk, or speak. “I thought I was tough, but I was completely broken.”