Pennsauken native killed in Iraq war

Posted: July 14, 2007

A Pennsauken-born Army nurse was killed this week during a mortar attack in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, the Department of Defense said yesterday.

Capt. Maria I. Ortiz, 40, was the 79th New Jersey service member and third woman with ties to the state to die in Iraq.

More than 3,600 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to the Defense Department.

Ortiz had been assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland before heading to Iraq.

While assigned to Aberdeen, she served as the chief nurse of general medicine at the Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.

In addition to Maryland and Iraq, Ortiz had been stationed in Puerto Rico, South Korea and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington over her nearly 16 years in the service.

She was identified by the Defense Department as coming from Bayamon, P.R. But records kept by Aberdeen Proving Ground indicated that Ortiz was born in Pennsauken and has family there, a military spokeswoman said.

Ortiz enlisted in 1991 at age 24 and received her nursing degree in 1999 from the University of Puerto Rico.

She also received her master's degree in quality management from the Massachusetts National Graduate School in 2004.

Defense Department officials said Ortiz died Tuesday "of wounds suffered from enemy indirect fire."

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at Aberdeen's chapel, said Pat McClung, an Aberdeen spokeswoman.


Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or ecolimore@phillynews.com. To comment, or to ask a question, go to http://go.philly.com/askcolimore.

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