Commander Cheryl Lynn Ruff, USN
(ret.) enlisted in the US Navy in 1976. In 1982, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing; and,
in 1985, completed a nurse anesthesia program at Georgetown University. Between 1986 and 1989 she was assigned as a critical
care nurse at the naval hospital in Subic Bay, Philippines. In 1991, Commander Cheryl Lynn Ruff served
on board USNS Mercy in support of Operation Desert Storm. From 2000 to 2002, Commander Cheryl Lynn Ruff
was the sole anesthesia provider for Fleet Surgical Team Eight and served on the USS Saipan, Wasp, and George Washington.
In 2003, following her final tour of duty in Iraq she retired from active military service. Commander
Cheryl Lynn Ruff is a co-author of Ruff’s War: A Navy Nurse.
According to the book description of Ruff’s
War: A Navy Nurse, “Twenty-five years in the U.S. Navy had made Cheryl Ruff an independent, resilient,
strong woman and a master at providing patient care in naval hospitals around the world. But nothing had prepared her for
what she experienced on the frontlines of the 2003 war in Iraq as a member of Bravo Surgical Company. Known as the “Devil
Docs,” they followed directly behind the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force as they entered Iraq at the onset of Operation
Iraqi Freedom. Right along with the Marines, Commander Ruff, the only female nurse anesthetist at the front, and the rest
of her surgical team learned to endure the brutal conditions of the desert while regularly confronting questions of life and
Working in temperatures well over 100
degrees in full MOPP gear, Ruff and her team set up mobile hospital tents in the sand wherever needed. As Black Hawk helicopters
brought in steady streams of the wounded, Bravo staff found it impossible to maintain basic sterilization procedures, and
cleanup often amounted to shoveling blood-soaked sand out of the tent. During surgery they frequently wore lighted helmets
so they could continue operating when the generator failed and donned gas masks when warnings were issued. These horrific
conditions, coupled with the gruesome images of shredded bodies and the cries of wounded children, became Ruff’s world.
This is her story of the war, up close and personal. It is a story of sacrifice, survival, and courage, movingly written by
women unconditionally dedicated to the life-saving mission of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.”