1LT Mary Rosette F Wee
December 2019
Mary Rosette F
1st Brigade Combat Team, Philippine Army
Philippine Army Nursing Service
Metro Manila




Lt Wee then proceeded to the second critical patient. She covered his neck wound and multiple shrapnel on his body. She reassured and placed him in a comfortable position.
1LT Mary Rosette F Wee is responsible with the medical concerns of about 1,800 1BCT and attached unit personnel. The brigade’s first deployment is in Jolo, a 48.80 sq mi land area, south of Philippines. In this piece of land, known insurgents such as the Abu Sayyaf terrorists and their terroristic components lurk in Jolo metropolitan and thick vegetative areas. The place has hostile reputation wherein Filipinos, both Catholics and Muslims, have a fair share of sacrifices. When the Brigade arrived at the Jolo public pier, Lt Wee felt an undeniable eerie feeling that some would say that once you set foot in this land, a promise of another tomorrow or another opportunity to see another day is uncertain. Constant weather changes, lack of water supply, and difficult living conditions wherein one is stripped off from forms of comfort do not help either.

Lt Wee wanted her platoon to see that she is passionate in delivering the necessary care to the troops. As a leader, she would be leading the medical team even if they have been telling her that their day-to-day mission is dangerous. She believes that she should never show fear or hesitation in accomplishing a mission so that her team would place their full trust in her to carry out an undertaking. She once shared her thoughts upon learning of her deployment: “I fear a lot of things about this land, but I should not let fear consume me because I have my men relying on and looking up to me. Before this deployment, I always tell myself that I should be very good with the things I do while leading this medical platoon. My men rely on me, and the lives of my ailing and injured troops depend on the effectiveness of the medical platoon.”

Come the first bombing incident happened. After doing her morning routines, Lt Wee called her First Sergeant along with (2) other medics to accompany patients for consultation at Camp Teodoro Bautista Station Hospital. By the time lunch was announced and as Lt Wee reached the last plight of stair leading to mess hall, a sudden strong loud blast happened. Lt Wee took cover with 2 other female soldiers and a male officer. A second loud blast occurred. Knowing that mortars would be threats and the room of the Commander is on that floor which they might be targeting, she hurriedly went downstairs while there were gun fires, blasts, and glasses were falling. After few minutes, she heard soldier shouting looking for a medic. An officer went where Lt Wee was and covered her way to the casualties. The first casualty she saw was one of her medics lying down looking pale and helpless. Another medic casualty was beside him, pale and seemed not himself because he was not performing as what a medic should during that time.

Amongst the casualties, Lt Wee identified two casualties as critical; first is the medic with a considerable size wound on his back and the second critical patient was the one with probable shrapnel in his neck but was able to talk, breathe properly, and with minimal bleeding on his neck. Lt Wee attended the injured medic because of the considerable blast wound on his lower back. The casualty told her “Ma’am, butas likod ko!” (“Ma’am, I’ve got hole in my back!”) while he was pale, sweating profusely, in pain, and gasping for air. She packed his wound to stop the bleeding and asked him to lay on his left side for comfort. She ran a 500ml IV fluid via fast drip then administered 2 grams Tranexamic Acid.

Lt Wee then proceeded to the second critical patient. She covered his neck wound and multiple shrapnel on his body. She reassured and placed him in a comfortable position. While she was treating the critical patients, she was giving instructions to those who may give immediate first aid to other casualties. Casualties themselves are also instructed to perform self-aid. During this time, there were still some fires outside the building where they were. Total casualties attended during the bombing incident were 12. By the next day, about 7 more personnel were treated due to minor shrapnel injuries. Casualties were transported to CBTSH for further evaluation and management.

On the third day of their admission, with the help of other hospital staff, Lt Wee was able to conduct assessment via Trauma Risk Management guidelines. Among the casualties, two patients needed signposting and further referral to Military Treatment Facility in Zamboanga City. One month after, she did reassignments to the battle casualties as well as reassessed troops who were present during the incident. Significantly, such interventions had been helpful to the troops at the same time, new learning also happened which were reported to the Office of the Chief Nurse Army in order to help facilitate in developing and improving the health service support of the Army as well as the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Another incident was when Lt Wee was part of a long convoy of transporting artillery weapons and movement of hundreds of troops to other combat key position areas with two of her men tasked to be the medical team during that significant movement. Most of military vehicles designated for the convoys were filled up. The operations decided to let the medical team ride in one of the armor vehicles of 6th Mechanized. Lt Wee and another medic joined the first armor vehicle then the other medic was on the second. Along the way, the assigned vehicle for Lt Wee lost its brake causing the convoy to stop. Traffic is building up and passersby were starting to flock the area where the two armored vehicles were stalled. Lt Wee called the headquarters for backup and for them to handle the situation because the convoy was almost an hour late. The Medical Team transferred to the other armored vehicle sent by the headquarters and proceeded with the convoy.

In a few minutes, an IED explosion ahead of their path was reported. The entire convoy was rerouted to another detachment for security purposes and for the areas to be cleared first before resumption of movement. The enemies were bombarded with mortar fires and fires from choppers. Eventually, it was declared that the enemy had dispersed and there was a clearance for the convoy to proceed. These two experiences are just to name the few of countless learning experiences of Lt Wee. For her, treating a person is one thing but saving a person’s life is something extraordinary.

One nun came to visit their camp and asked about her experiences and what does a military nurse do in combat areas such as here in Sulu. Her reply was spontaneous, “Sister, kung iba nangunguha ng buhay, iba naman ako sapagkat ako naman ang nagdudugtong ng buhay.”; (“Sister, if others (combatants) may take life, I’m different, I preserve life.”) the nun smiled. She believes that in any battle, one death is already too many. Saving a life is like saving hundreds since that one life will not forget how you provided care on a brink of death, and they will become a better person out of it. Anybody can be a nurse but not everybody can be a military nurse and choose to be one. Military nursing entails both challenges and fulfillment in every mission. Successful military campaigns and missions such as during wars would be incomplete without the health service support whose primary mission is to treat and conserve the fighting strength of the troops. Behind the scenes, military nurses work alongside the troops to provide support across the healthcare needs of the soldiers in battle. No better person to emulate than the Mother of Nursing – Florence Nightingale, whose dedication in the Crimean War etched nursing as a respectable profession. That’s why when requested for a callsign, Lt Wee asked to be called Nightingale.