"I was coming out of my room when it happened. I couldn’t see anything. Smoke and debris were everywhere," remembered Jennifer Curtis to the Salt Lake Tribune, as she described an attack on her base in Afghanistan in 2011.
The Air Force Capt. had arrived at Firebase Chamkani in April of that year, where she embedded with U.S. Army Special Forces, working, according to the military, with "village stability operations."
And on that particular day, a rocket had landed in the middle of their base (one of 126 Curtis would be on the receiving end of throughout her deployment). The explosion knocked soldiers to the ground, blasted shrapnel into flesh, and caused concussions. That's when Curtis, a nurse practitioner, clicked into hero mode.
As the base took on enemy fire, reports KSL, Curtis dragged the six wounded men to safety, administered emergency care, and stabilized them until they could be airlifted out. Curtis, a family nurse practitioner, was the only medic on scene for the first 20 minutes of the attack.
UPDATE -- 9/11: According to an account by Curtis, relayed to The Huffington Post via Richard W. Essary, the media relations contact at Hill Air Force Base, four other people assisted in dragging the incapacitated and wounded soldiers to safety. Captain Curtis emphasized the mission was a team effort with many courageous individuals.
"It was pretty scary in the beginning,” she said to the station. “You don’t think about that. You just know people need help and you immediately respond.”
Thanks to her efforts, and the efforts of her colleagues, all six soldiers survived.
In a separate attack on the unit while they were out visiting Afghan villages, a soldier sustained serious injury from a rocket propelled grenade. While tending to his wounds, she was notified of a local woman in the village having a heart attack. According to the Daily Mail, Curtis stabilized both the woman and the soldier -- all while bullets and rockets flew over her head.
Because of her heroic actions, Captain Curtis has been awarded the Bronze Star, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal. She's also been highlighted by the Air Force as part of its "Portraits In Courage" series, which recognizes the tremendous sacrifice and bravery of a select group of airmen.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the rockets fired upon Curtis as "mortars."
PHOTOS of Captain Curtis [via KSL.com]:
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