Saturday, May 24, 2014

When the Hero is an Army Nurse

Army Capt. Jennifer Moreno
Most of the people in the military are men. It’s been a tradition for thousands of years, reinforced by societal norms. I’m old enough to remember when the military academies were men-only, and most jobs in every branch of service were restricted to men. Although combat roles are slowly being filled by women, women have been on the front lines for a very long time.

Some of those in danger are noncombatants: medical personnel, chaplains, even war correspondents. The ones included in my book were well aware of their vulnerability. But it didn’t stop them from doing their jobs. Only death could do that.

Army nurse Captain Jennifer Moreno received a Bronze Star posthumously for heroic actions on October 5, 2013. It was a chaotic day: she was killed by the fifth in a series of twelve bombs (detonated by mines) in the Zhari district of Kandahar. Four soldiers were killed and 25 wounded.

Through the years, there have been variations of what is called the Soldiers Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” That means you do everything humanly possible to come to the aid of a wounded soldier. And you never, ever leave the dead behind.

Moreno was trying to help soldiers wounded in the first four explosions, when the fifth one killed her. It wasn’t until the 11th that Spc. Samuel Crockett (who received a Silver Star for his actions that day) was able to retrieve Moreno’s body the only way he could: with a drag line.

In a eulogy, Captain Amanda King, commander of Moreno’s female Special Operation support team in Afghanistan, wrote: “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.”

I’m not sure about that. You can look at what Moreno did (you can read a detailed account here) and rationally say “I couldn’t do that.” But in the heat of battle, with the lives of those you care about hanging in the balance, would you just watch them die? Would you forget about your own safety to do your job?

War makes people do things they never would have done before. Some of them are horrific, others are selfless. I think most of us believe that in a similar situation we’d do the right thing, without regard for ourselves.

Jennifer Moreno didn’t have to think long and hard about it. She lived the Soldiers Creed as deeply as any man with a rifle in his hands.

There are other heroes like Moreno: doctors, corpsmen, chaplains. All of them non-combatants, all of them vulnerable, all of them willing to support and protect those who are doing the killing.

So this Memorial Day weekend, let’s remember that not all heroes are armed with weapons.

Some are armed with love.

You can read a more detailed account of Captain Moreno’s heroic actions here.

1 comment:

Ms Verhoff said...

"..remember that not all heroes are armed with weapons. Some are armed with love." Great post!

I found your blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe. It's nice to connect.

World of C. D. Verhoff