© Constance J. Moore
Colonel, ANC (Retired), ANCA Historian
In the twenty-first century, nine Army nurses have paid the ultimate price and died because of terrorism and war. Five were men; four were women; four were advanced practitioners; three were critical care nurses, and two were medical surgical nurses. They were doing humanitarian work; riding with the troops; talking with loved ones; preparing to deploy; walking to work; or coming back to their quarters. Just ordinary Army nurses who did the work because they believed in the mission. They became extraordinary when they conducted themselves with great courage in the face of exceptional danger and hardship. We are awed by their love of country, and uncommon valor.
LTC Richard Berrettini was the first Army nurse to lose his life from injuries suffered in Afghanistan. He died on 11 January 2008 at Brooke Army Medical Center [now part of San Antonio Military Medical Center] from injuries sustained on January 2. He was returning from Khowst Province, Afghanistan, where he provided humanitarian care for villagers, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.
LTC Berrettini’s career spanned 27 years of service in the Navy and the Army. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1973 as an internal communication specialist. In 1984, he joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard as an operating room nurse. The officer completed his advanced practice degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. He was assigned to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Medical Detachment. For 14 years, in civilian life he worked as a school nurse for the Port Allegheny School District in Pennsylvania.
CPT Bruce Clark lost his life in service to his country on 1 May 2012 while supporting US and coalition efforts in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan. Clark collapsed during a regularly scheduled video chat with his wife, Susan. For over two hours, she valiantly tried to help her husband by summoning rescuers in a war zone 8000 miles away. Unfortunately, Kevin could not be revived. He died of non-battle related causes.
At the time of his passing, CPT Clark was two months into a challenging tour of duty with the 566th Air Support Medical Company, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He volunteered for duty as an Army nurse in 2006. He worked as an intensive care nurse, responsible for ensuring that critically ill patients receive optimal care. His duty assignments before deploying included Tripler Army Medical Center and William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
CPT John Gaffaney was one of the thirteen military and civilian personnel who died when MAJ Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at a Fort Hood military processing center on 5 November 2009. He bravely engaged the shooter by throwing a chair at the individual, before being shot several times. Other survivors ripped parts of their uniform to use as pressure bandages in an unsuccessful attempt to stop his bleeding.
A Navy veteran who later served 15 years with the California Army National Guard before retiring as a major, he had been eager to rejoin the military after 11September 11, 2001. Aware that the Army was in dire need of mental health workers, Gaffaney was accessed into the Army Reserve at the lower rank of captain to serve as a psychiatric nurse. As a civilian, he worked as a supervisor for the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.
CPT Gussie M. Jones was the first African-American Army Nurse to die while assigned duty in a theater of operation in Army Nurse Corps history. On 7 March 2004, the officer died of non-battle related causes while working at the 31st Combat Support Hospital, in Bagdad, Iraq, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
CPT Jones had a fifteen-year Army career, having served as an enlisted soldier for ten years and an officer for five years. When she enlisted into the Army, in 1988, she worked as a personnel specialist. In 1996, she entered the Army Enlisted Commissioning Program to obtain her bachelor’s degree. Her first assignment was Brooke Army Medical Center [now called San Antonio Military Medical Center]. After attending an Intensive Care Course, she was moved to William Beaumont Army Medical Center. She served in the critical care unit, handling a wide range of critically ill trauma, pediatrics, medical and surgical patients. (More)
CPT Joshua McClimans was killed 22 April 2011, by indirect rocket or mortar fire from insurgents, as he went to work at the Army hospital. He served with the 848th Forward Surgical Team, U.S. Army Reserve, a subsidiary of the 256th Combat Support Hospital at Forward Operating Base Salerno near Khost Province, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He had been in country approximately six weeks.
CPT McClimans attended college on a ROTC scholarship. After graduation, he accessed on active duty for four years. He worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, and had one tour of duty in Iraq. More recently, he had joined the Army Reserve in order to earn additional money for school to become a nurse anesthetist. As a civilian, he also worked as an intensive nurse providing the best care of the critically ill patients, in hospitals at Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
CPT Jennifer M. Moreno was killed in action on 6 October 2013 by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. She was a member of the Cultural Support Team assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, supporting a Joint Special Operations Task Force.
She had volunteered and was successfully assessed and selected into the U. S. Army Special Operations Command Cultural Support Team program and deployed in June 2013. Moreno and six other women were chosen from thousands of female Army officers and assigned to gather intelligence from Afghan women who, because of cultural practices, would not speak to male soldiers.
On 10 July 2007, CPT Maria Ortiz was the first active duty nurse to die as a result of battle injuries since the Vietnam War. She was returning to her barracks after physical training when a barrage of mortar shells mortally wounded her. She was assigned to the 28th Combat Support Hospital, 3rd Medical Command, in Baghdad, Iraq. She had volunteered to serve in Iraq because she felt drawn to troops wounded in combat.
CPT Ortiz enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1991. In 1993, she entered active duty and served for eight years before completing her bachelor’s degree. In 1999, she was commissioned as an officer. She served in Honduras, Korea, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Kirk Army Health Clinic. In 2004, she completed her received a master's degree in quality management.
CPT Russell Seager was one of the thirteen military and civilian personnel who died when MAJ Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at a Fort Hood military processing center on 5 November 2009. He was commissioned as an Army Reservist in 2005, attached to the 467th Medical Detachment. He was to join the first reservist combat control unit to deploy to Iraq.
CPT Seager was a lifelong learner, holding multiple degrees in nursing and alternative medicine. His civilian job was as an mental health adult nurse practitioner at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He also worked with the residents at the Racine’s Ridgewood Care Center. At these facilities, he diagnosed, counseled, and made other therapeutic interventions for patients with psychiatric disorders. Moreover he taught in the nursing and medical assistant programs at Bryant and Stratton College, Marquette University and Cardinal Stritch University.
LTC Juanita Warman was one of the thirteen military and civilian personnel who died when MAJ Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at a Fort Hood military processing center on 5 November 2009. She had forced an Army sergeant to the ground, saving that service member’s life, before being mortally wounded.
LTC Warman had over twenty years in the active and reserve component. She was a certified as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who specialized in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. She was instrumental in setting up the post-traumatic stress disorder program for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which helps soldiers and their families re-acclimate to civilian life. She served in the United States and Europe, and as an activated reservist at Madigan Army Medical Center. Seeking a deployment that would take her closer to the soldiers, she volunteered for assignment to Iraq. This would have been her second deployment into the war zone.