A soldier from San Diego was among four service members killed in an enemy attack Sunday in Afghanistan.
According to the Department of Defense, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, died in an IED attack in the Zhari District.
Moreno was assigned to the Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, according to the DoD, and was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Moreno attended San Diego High School and graduated in 2006 (see yearbook photo below). She then went on to get a scholarship and graduate from the University of San Francisco, and then became an Army nurse.
In a statement, Col. Ramona Fiorey said the whole medical community at Madigan is “deeply saddened” by Moreno’s death.
“We've lost a superb officer and a caring nurse who served with marked distinction and honor throughout her career,” Fiorey said.
On Tuesday, NBC 7 San Diego spoke with Moreno's former San Diego High School ROTC instructor, 1st Sgt. Lawrance Mayorga.
Mayorga said Moreno was very active and accomplished in the ROTC program, and will be rememered fondly by everyone who knew her.
“Jennifer was one of our leading cadets. She was what we called our ‘Staff S1,’ she worked in the staff position, and she was given the title of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel by the time she graduated,” said Mayorga.
Mayorga teared up recalling Moreno's memorable personality, work ethic and willingness to help others in ROTC.
“She was very open. She helped other students – she cared for all the students in the program,” Mayorga told NBC 7. "It wasn’t about Jennifer. It’s just like the job she was doing [now]. She was always thinking about others and trying to do better things for them. That’s what I remember about Jennifer. We’re going to miss her dearly.”
“We thought highly of her, and we thought highly of the family. And that’s what we’re going to miss. Her beauty and her charm. And we’ll always remember her in our hearts,” he continued.
Mayorga said one of Moreno's sisters, and her brother, also joined ROTC at San Diego High School. Her brother, Ivan, also joined the Army, and is still on active duty.
This was Moreno's first deployment.
Three others were also killed in the enemy attack: Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa.; Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore.
Following the announcement of Lt. Moreno’s death, the office of California Governor Jerry Brown released the following statement:
On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, who bravely gave her life in service to our state and nation. The Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.
In memorial, Governor Brown ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol today. 1st Lt. Moreno’s family will receive a letter of condolence from the Governor.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that families of troops killed in action would not receive death benefits because of the government shutdown. Family members usually received a $100,000 "death gratuity" within 36 hours.
According to the Pentagon, other family benefits-- including burial expenses, travel expenses and a year-long housing allowance-- will also not be paid during the shutdown.