The story of Army nurse 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno is not an ordinary military story. This extraordinary person, one of the U.S. Military unsung heroes was killed trying to save her fellow brothers and sisters in a suicide bomb attack. She was only three months into her first deployment with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in the Zhari district in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when a night raid took a turn for the worst.
On that day, at the evening of Oct. 5, 2013, 1st. Lt. Moreno and other members of her team were on foot patrol, preparing to raid a high-value Taliban bomb-making compound. There, one man was waiting for them. Upon entering, men, apparently a suicide bomber detonated an an explosive vest. In moments after the initial explosion, other insurgents triggered roughly a dozen improvised explosive devices inside the compound the force was entering.
A wounded soldier was lying down and screaming in pain when Moreno, who originally joined the Army as a nurse, chose to go after and aid him over her own safety. In moving to attend to her comrade, she triggered explosive device that ended her life.
Capt. Amanda King, commander of Moreno’s cultural support team, wrote in her eulogy, “None of us would have done what you did, running into hell to save your wounded brothers, knowing full well you probably wouldn’t make it back.”
Moreno was posthumously promoted to the rank of captain and awarded the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and NATO Medal.
That was a day from hell for the 75th Regiment. Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, Sgt. Joseph Peters and Pfc. Cody Patterson was killed alongside Moreno in the deadly raid while 30 other soldiers were wounded in the attack. However, in standing their ground, they saved countless people from an attack that was intended to kill civilians.
Jennifer M. Moreno, who was just 25 at the time of her death, was attached to a joint special operations task force as a cultural support team member, the only combat role so far for female soldiers. Cultural support teams are made up of female soldiers who can engage Afghan women in a way that male soldiers can’t. Moreno volunteered for the position with U.S. Special Operations Command after completing her Army airborne training in 2009.
Moreno started deployment in July 2013, and prior that, she served as the medical center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, as a clinical staff nurse on a medical-surgical unit. She is survived by her mother and two sisters in San Diego, and her brother who serves in the Army.