Today I decided to write a piece that I know is close to every ones heart from what I have been able to see on my blog stats. I speak of Army Nurse Capt. Maria Ines Ortiz, who died of wounds received during a mortar attack on July 10,2007 in the infamous Green Zone. I have had to really dig to get a better picture of the events surrounding this attack.
On that day the Green Zone was attacked with a barrage of 23 mortar shells. Anyone who has been in such a scenario could well imagine the chaos that must have ensued. This is a heavily fortified compound where the Iraqi Government and Parliament are base as well as foreign embassies.
As is usually the case Embassy officials would not comment as to whether the embassy itself was hit or as to casualties. For obvious reasons this information did not come out until much later. Mortar and rocket attacks are common in the Green Zone and exact figures are hard to come by.
The UN had reported that ( up to that time ) 26 people had been killed in that area between mid February and late May, and they complained of the ever mounting risks of operating in that area.
In the summer of 2005, a Kuwaiti firm was ‘awarded’ the $592m contract for the new US embassy in Baghdad, to be completed by 2007. Built to withstand attack, this Ozymandius on the Tigris, composed of a cluster of 21 buildings, will have “a gym, swimming pool, barber and beauty shops, a food court and a commissary. In addition to the main embassy buildings, there will be a large-scale US Marine barracks, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. Water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent from Baghdad’s city utilities. The total site will be two-thirds the area of the National Mall in Washington, DC.” It will be the largest US embassy in the world. For that reason, I have included
this US Embassy in Baghdad amongst US Bases in Iraq.
This is what I was able to gather from the various reports of that day. Capt. Ortiz had just got back from physical training when she was caught outside by the barrage of mortar shells. She was killed by shrapnel from these mortars. She was the first Army nurse killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
Now, according to Swiss Info at least 3 people were killed including a U.S. Military service member, which I assume is Capt.Ortiz, and 18 others were wounded including 5 U.S. citizens. According to Swiss Info :
Iraqi police said earlier some 30 mortars and rockets were fired at the compound, which houses the Iraqi government along with the U.S. and British embassies. It was one of the biggest barrages against the zone since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Police also said three people had been killed in the strike, but identified them as two Iraqis and a Filipino, implying the death toll might rise.
And from Alertnet.org
Police said many of the wounded were Iraqis. Contractors of numerous nationalities work inside the compound, which covers a large area of central Baghdad and is bounded on one side by the Tigris river.
The reports vary as to the amounts of mortars that hit the area. Some reports say 23 some say as many as 40. The fact of the matter is that it was a heavy barrage.
That Maria Ines Ortiz was loved by many goes beyond saying. You have but to type her name in any search engine and volumes will present themselves to you.
I leave you with these words by Joel S. Hirschhorn at the Intelligence Daily:
Maria should not have died from shrapnel in Iraq. And neither should have thousands and thousands of other Americans died and become terribly wounded in Iraq. For what? To keep all the lies of Bush alive until, eventually and inevitably, we leave Iraq, defeated and with even more dead and wounded soldiers?
Army Captain Maria Ines Ortiz was buried at Arlington National Cemetery
August 9, 2007 with full Honors.