Maria Ortiz First Army Nurse KIA Since Vietnam
The Army has buried the first nurse killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
Capt. Maria I. Ortiz was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, nearly a month after she was killed in the Green Zone in Baghdad, the first Army nurse to die in combat since the Vietnam War. Ortiz, 40, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was killed July 10 by enemy fire, the Defense Department reported. She was caught in a mortar attack while returning from physical training.
Ortiz volunteered to go to Iraq, leaving in September after 18 months as the chief nurse at the Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. “She really felt that while what she was doing here was important, she felt as though she needed to go over there, because she wanted to take care of our soldiers and the people of Iraq and the coalition soldiers,” said Wanda Schuler, who worked with Ortiz at the Kirk clinic.
A sad milestone. Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, the Army’s acting surgeon general, attended the funeral and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine issued an executive order to fly the state’s flags at half staff.
As an awkward aside under the circumstances, MG Pollock is a nurse. How can a nurse be the surgeon general, giving orders to doctors? (Indeed, it’s always struck me as odd that nurses can rise above the rank of captain and thus be paid more and senior to board certified MDs.)
Hat tip: Phil Carter