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Board Honors Fallen Soldier from San Diego

Board of Education Honors Fallen Soldier from San Diego, Urges Support for Federal Recognition
Posted on 12/07/2021

Tonight, on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the San Diego Unified Board of Education passed a resolution recognizing the valor and legacy of Captain Jennifer Moreno, “an extraordinary San Diegan and graduate of San Diego Unified.”

Capt. Moreno, an Army nurse and San Diego High School graduate, was killed in Afghanistan in 2013 while serving with elite Special Operations forces. Tonight’s board resolution urges federal lawmakers to swiftly pass legislation seeking to rename the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center in honor of Moreno.

Introduced earlier this year by U.S. Representative Mike Levin, H.R. 3665 will officially designate the center as the Jennifer Moreno Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center if passed. The bill was co-sponsored by all 53 members of California’s House delegation, and passed unanimously by the House on November 15. It now awaits consideration by the U.S. Senate.

“I’m very grateful to the San Diego Unified Board of Education for endorsing my legislation to recognize a local hero and honor the service and sacrifices of all women veterans," said Levin, who represents northern San Diego County in the 49th Congressional District.

Army Capt Jennifer MorenoMoreno was born in San Diego, raised in Logan Heights by her single mother after the early loss of her father, and attended San Diego High from 2002 to 2006, where she was an active member of her school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) unit.

Lars Staack, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who heads the JROTC program at San Diego High, says his students still recognize the contributions made by Moreno. “She was an exceptional student, an exceptional cadet, an exceptional Army officer and an exceptional person,” Staack said. “She is really an inspiration for all of us.”

After graduating from San Diego High, Moreno became the first person in her family to go to college, attending the University of San Francisco on an ROTC scholarship and graduating with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2010.

Moreno then received her commission in the U.S. Army as a Nurse Corps officer, where she volunteered for and was selected into the Special Operations Command Cultural Support Team program.

Moreno deployed to Afghanistan in June 2013 with the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Army’s premier large-scale special operations force, as a Cultural Support Team member tasked with outreach to the Afghan women they encountered.

Three months into her first tour, on October 6, 2013, Moreno was with a Ranger unit on a night mission in Kandahar province, attempting to capture a high-value Taliban target when four explosive devices were triggered. Moreno was killed trying to render aid to a fellow soldier, becoming the first nurse Combat Support Team member to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Today, her trailblazing legacy remains visible in the growing number of women breaking through gender barriers that have historically kept many roles in the military out of reach. In tonight’s resolution, 

"Capt. Jennifer Moreno’s story represents the best of our community; a San Diego High School JROTC graduate, she dedicated her life at an early age to serving our country and defending our freedoms,” Levin said. “I know many young people in our region will continue to find inspiration and purpose in Capt. Moreno’s life of service, and I look forward to seeing her name attached to the San Diego VA Medical Center.”