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The deaths of five young men and a woman in Afghanistan last weekend were in the news because their families initially faced a delay in death benefits due to the government shutdown.
Yesterday, President Obama signed legislation to reinstate those benefits, which the families can use to help cover the cost of travel to Dover Air Force Base when their loved ones' bodies come home and later the cost of funerals.
First Lieutenant Jennifer Moreno and Army PFC Cody Patterson were two of the four soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Sunday, October 6.
A Nurse Doing The "Right Thing"
Dr. Susan Prion was Moreno's ROTC adviser at the University of San Francisco’s School of Nursing. Prion said that Moreno participated as one of seven women selected for a joint operations cultural support team, which was run by Army Rangers and Green Berets.
As part of this team, Moreno gathered cultural information from Afghani women that they may not have shared with male officers. In her application to the program, Prion said, Moreno wrote that being a nurse would give her a "special sensitivity," that would let her engage with Afghanis in a distinctly trusting way.
"All of us were amazed when we found out that Jen was not killed as part of a medic team ... but in fact was on a night mission with her Ranger and Green Beret colleagues, and was doing something incredibly dangerous, but also incredibly important," Prion said. "What is so inspiring that there was no indication that she was really going to be a heroine. One foot in front of the other, she got it done. Yet this is what she should do, she thought it was the right thing."
Moreno was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and promoted to captain.
Losing "A Fine Young Man"
Pfc. Cody Patterson died alongside Moreno. He was a member of the Army's elite team of Rangers.
Jon Bartlow, the assistant principal of Philomath High School, which Patterson attended, remembered him as "a fine young man."
"[He was] one of the captains on the football team: slightly built but strong, fearless, the kind of kid who wanted to do the right thing," Bartlow said. "My memories of him are seeing him on Friday afternoons in his football uniform just before the game."
Bartlow remembers Patterson especially for his volunteerism.
Bartlow remembered Patterson for his involvement with the Philomath community. He was voted as “Mr. PHS Pageant,” for his efforts to raise money for the regional children's hospital, and Patterson was an active volunteer counselor for the Philomath Outdoor School.
The Army spokesman who came to Philomath after Patterson's death told Bartlow that he was in the top one percent of soldiers.
"That doesn't surprise me a bit: his work ethic on the field, his attitude in the classroom and around his peers was exemplary," Bartlow said. "It's always a loss when you think about somebody like that."
- Dr. Susan Prion, who was a college adviser for 25-year-old First Lieutenant Jennifer Moreno
- Jon Bartlow, assistant principal at Philomath High School which 24-year-old Private First Class Cody Patterson attended in Philomath, Oregon.
This segment aired on October 11, 2013.
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