I heard of this news while out shopping and immediately began investigating upon my arrival. I checked out many sources to get as many details regarding this story. It was on the local TV stations and newspapers here in Puerto Rico. This is what I found:
She was a Puerto Rican U.S. Army nurse and was killed in a mortar attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone this week in Iraq. She was the first Army nurse to die from combat-related injuries in the Iraq war, a Pentagon spokeswoman said Friday.
Army Capt. Maria Ines Ortiz, 40, who had been serving in Iraq since September, was caring for wounded Iraqis at a hospital inside the fortified district that also hosts the U.S. Embassy and Iraq’s parliament.
Some sources put her as being born in Camden, New Jersey, while others say Pennsauken, New Jersey. Ortiz grew up in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Ortiz enlisted in 1991, at the age of 24 and got her degree in nursing in 1999 from the University of Puerto Rico and her master’s degree in quality management from the Massachusetts National Graduate School in 2004.
Before deploying to Iraq last year, Ortiz was assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where she served as the chief nurse of general medicine at the Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.
The Defense Department lists Ortiz as being from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, while Aberdeen records show her as being from New Jersey. She was the 79th service member and third woman with ties to New Jersey to die in Iraq.
Ortiz, who died from her wounds Tuesday, was the first Army nurse killed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.
She was the only U.S. citizen among three people killed in the barrage Tuesday, one in a series of recent attacks that have added to safety concerns for key Iraqi and international officials who live and work in the Green Zone.
Through January of this year, 90 Army medical personnel had been killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, said Margaret Tippy, a spokeswoman for the Army Medical Command.
While in Iraq, Ortiz often stayed in touch with former colleagues by email. Wanda Schuler, a former Kirk colleague, said Ortiz arranged for boxes of Christmas decorations to be sent from Maryland to the surgical hospital where she worked
Ortiz had volunteered for duty in Iraq. She enlisted in 1991. She became an officer in 1999 after receiving her nursing degree from the University of Puerto Rico. Five years later, she received a master’s degree in quality management from the Massachusetts National Graduate School.
Ortiz had also been stationed in Puerto Rico and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
A memorial service for Ortiz is planned for Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Aberdeen’s chapel..