Núñez: A Hispanic Woman in the War
From El Diario
March 26, 2003
By Cristina Loboguerrero
The shadow of war hit us left, right, and center. It struck Hispanic
families, who dont feel the same passion about the war as
other sectors of society, especially hard.
Take the case of Mercedes Salamanca, who found one of her loved
ones, her daughter to be more exact, fighting for a cause that for
many dont think make sense.
Even more, Janet Núñez Salamance, thirty years old,
had been asking for a less dangerous job, and one closer to her
family, at the United Nations. She preferred to work offering help
to orphans and other children in Haiti, and to returned to active
service, only to be called up by the imminence of a conflict which
has now shook the entire world.
Janet, as she is called by her family, enlisted in the Navy before
she was even eighteen years old. Born in New York, to a Dominican
father and a Columbian mother, the young woman knew she wanted to
be in the armed forces since she was a child, according to her parents.
She is in the war voluntarily, nobody made her go, my daughter
could have gotten out of the Navy perfectly well, but she didnt
She had a good job at the United Nations as a bodyguard. Still,
she preferred, since over a year and a half ago, to go work for
human rights in Haiti, to help the orphans of that country,
During the first Gulf War, Núñez was assigned to
a base in North Carolina, administering admission tests. She was
also charged with sending troops into the area of combat. This is
the first time that she has been in war herself. She was sent to
Kuwait on the seventh of February.
Her mother last had communication with her last Tuesday [March
18th], when Janet called her on the telephone to assure her that
she was okay, two days after a letter arrived which said that a
friend had to be sent back to the United States because of health
At the same time, according to her mother, she informed me
that everything was ready for the war, and that she didnt
know when she would be able to call me.
Mercedes feelings are conflicted. On one side, there is the
anguish of not knowing the destiny of her daughter, on the other
is pride, because her daughter has always brought satisfaction to
her family, sharing in the many honors that she has received.
Before traveling to Haiti, where she was married in September, Janet
served in the security corps for the US ambassadors in Africa and
At only five feet tall and ninety pounds, Janet holds the rank
of Sergeant. Her stature, says her mother, is precisely the cause
of her success. She says she is so small in body, but so strong
and large in her heart, and I am sure that this is the reason that
she decided to go to war to aid her friends, defend her country
and involve herself in the reconstruction that will be necessary
after the end of the war.
Mercedes spends most of her time in Jersey City; seated in front
of the television screen, following closely the events and explaining
that each time that she sees an image of an attack it makes her
very nervous. To this she adds that she has to fight to keep herself
calm its been only twenty days since shes had
a delicate operation on her heart, from which she is still recuperating.
Translated From Spanish By Joshua Brustein
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