1st LT. Moreno‚Äôs Final Moments

             

At what would become a crucible of combat in Zhari District, Afghanistan, on the night of October 6th, 2013, young Jennifer Moreno's determination as a Nurse assisgned to a team of Army Rangers from the 3/75 reached its climax . In the words of her commander , Moreno ran "into hell' to rescue an injured comrade and it cost her life.

Moreno was attached to a Unit of Rangers from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. They were sent into Zhari to apprehend a bomb-maker.  Regrettably, the area around the home was sabotaged with land mines; 12 bombs exploded that night as a result of which four American soldiers were killed in action and 25 others were wounded.

As the soldiers approached the compound and called out for the occupants to surrender, a jihadist woman exited and detonated a suicide vest wounding six soldiers, and setting off a secondary explosion nearby. Two soldiers rushed in to help the wounded setting off a 3rd explosion. An insurgent ran away from the building while detonating his suicide vest killing himself and a service dog named Jani. This was only the 4th bomb.

Moreno heard a transmission from a staff sergeant to help a wounded soldier. The battleground commander had ordered all personnel to stay put. Yet, without any hesitation, Moreno moved towards her wounded teammates, recognizing the severity of their wounds. During her forward movements Moreno detonated the 5th bomb and was killed in action. A very select few would have the courage to make the same choice.

"Follow me" SGT Patrick Hawkings told SPC Cody Patterson en route to the wounded. Patterson stepped on a mine, the sixth detonation. He stumbled and set off the 7th which fatally wounded both him and SGT Hawkings.  A military police officer, Joseph M. Peters, set off explosions 8 and 9 after working to clear a landing zone for a medevac helicopter to extract the wounded. 

SPC. Samuel Crockett, who received a Silver Star for his actions that day, led a 20 man force to clear the area of mines, and rescue the wounded.  He secured space for medics to work on casualties and made his way to isolated Rangers, escorting them through the mine belt to safety. He managed to retrieve Hawkins, the fallen military dog and various pieces of sensitive military equipment without detonating more bombs.

Moreno's body still remained on the field. Three soldiers from Crockett's unit attempted to retrieve her, and struck the 11th explosive. Crockett ran to them, halting at the edge of his cleared path. The platoon sergeant was injured, but standing and Crockett guided him back to safe ground. With no clear path to his two teammates. Crockett got down to the ground and swept the earth for mines with his own hands.

He set off the 12th and final blast on his way to his last wounded teammates. Because the blast was not strong enough to kill him, Crockett was able to continue the rescue. He was forced to find a different path, again sweeping the ground with his hands.  He brought his teammate back to safety.

Crockett then approached the fallen nurse, attached a drag line to her and pulled her to safety. With Moreno recovered, the operators made the call to leave the compound. Finally, they got out of hell with no man or women left behind.

Rest in peace to U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, Spec. Cody Patterson, and special agent Joseph M. Peters.

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