JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — A nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center and three of her fellow soldiers in a special operations force were killed by an improvised bomb blast Sunday in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.
Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, was based at the hospital at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and volunteered as a member of a cultural support team with a special operations task force that deployed in June.
Also killed in Sunday’s blast in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province were Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25 of Carlisle, Pa.; Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore.
Hawkins and Patterson served out of Fort Benning, Ga., with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Peters belonged to the 5th Military Police Battalion out of Vicenza, Italy.
Serving with a special operations cultural support team is one of the few ways for female soldiers to go outside the wire on combat missions with all male Army Ranger or Green Beret teams, The News Tribune reported.
“We’ve lost a superb officer and a caring nurse who served with marked distinction and honor throughout her career.” said Madigan Command Col. Ramona Fiorey. “We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this great American solider.”
Born in San Diego, Moreno received her commission as an Army officer after graduating from the University of San Francisco with a bachelor of science degree.
She graduated from the Army airborne course in 2009 and arrived at Madigan in 2010, where she served as a clinical staff nurse in a medical surgical unit until she sought a special operations assignment.
It’s a dangerous assignment that calls on American women to interact with Afghan females to gain information that might not be available to male soldiers because of cultural differences in a Muslim country, The News Tribune reported. In October 2011, medic Lt. Ashley White was killed on a mission in Afghanistan with two Rangers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Moreno “was a talented member of our team who lost her life while serving her country in one of the most dangerous environments in the world,” said Lt. Col. Patrick J. Ellis, Commander of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. “Her bravery and self-sacrifice were in keeping with the highest traditions of the 75th Ranger Regiment. She was making a difference in Afghanistan and that legacy will live on.”
Moreno is survived by her mother, Marie V. Cordero, and her sisters Jearaldy Moreno and Yaritza Cordova of San Diego. Her brother, Ivan Moreno, serves in the Army.