Remembering Lori Piestewa, The First Native American Woman Soldier To Die In Combat
On March 23, 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War, a unit of the 507th Maintenance Co. with a handful of trucks got lost in a sandstorm and took a wrong turn in the desert. The small convoy was attacked by Iraqi forces and some soldiers were captured.
Among them were Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa.
This video is in memory of Lori Piestewa, a 23-year-old, Native American woman of the Hopi Nation. She and Jessica Lynch had met each other serving in the 507th Maintenance Co. and had become close friends. On that day, under fierce enemy fire, she recognized that Jessica Lynch needed help. Piestewa rescued Lynch from the damaged truck she was in. But it proved to be a bad day all around.
Both Lynch and the badly injured Piestewa were taken prisoner by the Iraqi troops.
A few days later, American forces received intelligence as to where they were being held. They were in a hospital being treated for the injuries they had sustained in the attack. A couple days later, U.S. military forces made a successful nighttime raid on that hospital. Lynch was rescued, but sadly, Pfc. Piestewa had already succumbed to her wounds.
Piestewa became the first female service member to die in that war. She was also the first Native American woman to die in combat.
Piestewa joined the Army in 2001. She came from a family that had a long tradition of military service. Her grandfather fought in WWII and her father served in Vietnam. She was raised on the Hopi Reservation with both Catholic and Hopi traditions that taught her to “love her neighbor as herself.” That was her nature. She was raised to be a person for others. And she lived that ideal every day.
She was awarded the Purple Heart, the POW Medal, and was promoted from Private First Class to Specialist posthumously. She is buried in the soil of her native home on the Hopi Reservation.
The Veterans Site honors the life and the service of Specialist Lori Piestewa. We are humbled by her courage in the face of the enemy and her ultimate sacrifice for her sisters and brothers in that unit from the 507th Maintenance Co. that day in Iraq.
We promise to never forget you. Rest In Peace.