A Madigan Army Medical Center nurse serving alongside an elite Special Operations Force in Afghanistan was killed Sunday by an enemy attack that also took the lives of three fellow soldiers from other military bases.
Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, belonged to a joint Special Operations cultural support team. It's one of few ways for female soldiers to go out on combat missions with all male Army Ranger or Green Beret teams.
"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 soldier."
Madigan's medical staff occasionally deploys in small numbers to support soldiers in combat. Army records show that Moreno was the first soldier to die in Iraq or Afghanistan while serving under Madigan's flag.
Moreno was killed in the Zhari District of Kandahar province with Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, and Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24.
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.
They were hit during a night mission that prevented a high-profile suicide attack in the city of Kandahar, Ranger Regiment spokeswoman Tracy Bailey said. Another person wearing a suicide bomb detonated near the Ranger-led patrol, and then a series of other bombs exploded.
In addition to the four fatal casualties, 30 soldiers were wounded by the explosions, Bailey said.
Moreno was born in San Diego. She 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.
Moreno sought an assignment with the Army Special Operations Command Cultural Support Team program and deployed in June.
The assignment 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 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 and two sisters in San Diego. Her brother serves in the Army.
Last year, Lewis-McChord had a heavy footprint in Afghanistan with all three of its 4,500-soldier Stryker brigades deploying at different times, in addition to its Special Operations Forces units and bomb disposal companies. It lost 36 military service members to the war in 2012.
This year, four of Lewis-McChord's five fatal casualties died while serving on Special Operations assignments.