BAYAMON, PR, USA U.S. Army CPT, 28TH COMBAT SUPPORT HOSPITAL, 3D MEDICAL COMMAND, FORT BRAGG, NC BAGHDAD, IRAQ 07/10/2007
Army Captain Maria Ortiz, from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, enlisted in the Army in 1991 as a medical surgical nurse. She was commissioned as an officer in 1999. She was the first nurse killed in combat since the Vietnam War. Maria truly loved her work and really felt like she was making a difference in Iraq
Maria was a shining star in the nursing ward-literally. A smile never left Maria’s face. She was always smiling at her colleagues, her patients, as well as her fiancé. Always seeking to make it a better place, she asked a colleague to send Christmas decorations so she could brighten up the hospital halls and provide staff and soldiers alike a taste of the holidays. Maria was known for welcoming every patient that walked in, and following them through their treatment-even after they had long left her care.
She was called the “jewel of the clinic”. She cared and went past the call of duty for patients, for family, and for colleagues alike. Beyond dedicated, she was remembered by patients whom she had cared for years before as an amazing nurse-and an even more amazing person. She knew that physical care had to be accompanied by emotional support.
She volunteered to go to Iraq, and many friends and family look up to her. As her twin sister says, this is not because she was a soldier or a nurse, but because she accomplished her purpose in life. Indeed she did. Colleagues and patients continue to discuss how Maria touched their lives-she was so much more than she even knew.