It was 1320 hours when the helicopter landed carrying Army Specialist Jana Haney into a field hospital for emergency surgery. Thirty-five minutes earlier Specialist Haney was with her Combat Engineer Battalion setting up an electrical grid for the Iraqi city Najah when the unit was attacked by Islamist foreign fighters. In an attempt to rescue two Iraqi children from certain death, Specialist Haney was slowed when she placed the children behind barriers as Rocket Propelled Grenade exploded throwing her 5’, petite frame into the air. The children were spared. Specialist Haney, however, was seriously injured and now struggling for her life due to serious injuries to her head and a loss of a great deal of blood. Within minutes of her arrival, a team of the Army’s best surgeon rushed to provide Specialist Haney the best chance of surviving.
After eleven hours of surgery, Specialist Haney lay in the post operative section of the field hospital to awaken. When nurse Emily Dutton checked on Specialist Haney, a serious problem with her vital sign arose. Nurse Dutton immediately called the doctors in who confirmed that Specialist Haney was in serious condition. Another surgery would have meant certain death as she was much too weak to try again. There was nothing more they could do for the twenty-two year old soldier but to watch and wait.
Early the next morning, the surgeon in attendance confirmed that Specialist Haney was in a coma. As she slipped away, her young soldier husband, who was also serving in Iraq, arrived to be by her side. He made no response to the suggestion that he leave the Specialist’s side to visit with the chaplain or leave to get something to eat or rest. He seemed to be terribly quiet and deep in thought or prayer each time a doctor or nurse came by to check on his wife.
When his wife, Specialist Jana Haney was pronounced dead at 1420 hours, nurse Dutton was surprised to note that a white rose had been carefully placed in her long blonde hair. Otherwise, the rest of the makeshift hospital room where she lay was bare and without anything except the young Specialist. Nurse Dutton ceremoniously let the young soldier husband out of the tent then watched him walk aimlessly into the scorching heat of an Iraqi afternoon to work through his grief. Then Nurse Dutton alerted his commanding officer and first sergeant of his wife’s death and his general direction as the two children Specialist Haney rescued, a brother and sister, entered the tent filled with tears and grief.
On her morning rounds through the field hospital, Nurse Dutton noticed a small piece of paper protruding from a floral arrangement on a table near the area where the young Specialist had died. On the yellow sticky note were the following: “I’m sorry for having taken one of the hospital surgeon’s white roses but when my loving wife and dedicated mother, Army Specialist Jana Martinez-Haney, went anywhere special she always wore a rose. It was her extra special flower. Thank you for your hard work and your understanding.” Sergeant Brett Haney.
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Special indeed.......my prayers are with all of our men and women serving this great country of ours all around the world and here on the homefront. May God's love and grace shine upon each one.