On Feb. 17, the 507th was deployed to the Persian Gulf, and as they checked their equipment and posed for photos with family members, little did they know the fate that awaited some them in the weeks to come.
The Pentagon has identified that one of the 11 bodies recovered in the daring rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch to be that of Lynch’s roommate while at Fort Bliss, Texas, 22-year-old Private First Class Lori Ann Piestewa from the Navajo-Hopi community in Tuba City, Ariz.
Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, a tribal member of the Hopi Nation, who has been declared to be the first American woman solider killed in the Iraq War, was with the 507th Maintenance Company that was ambushed on March 23 near Nasirlyah and had been considered an MI. since.
The Hopi Nation is said to have 56 tribal member’s serving in the U.S. Military. Pfc. Piestewa, who joined the service two years ago, was one of 48 Hopi tribal member’s now in Iraq.
Pfc. Piestewa is said to have been witty, strong-willed, an active member of the Catholic community in which she lived. Always a smile on her face for all, Piestewa was also a loving mother who leaves behind a 4-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, whom will deeply miss their mother, now removed from their young lives but surely not their hearts.
Whether Piestewa was for the war or against the war is irrelevant. Whether Pfc. Piestewa as an tribal member should have been in Iraq or not, is irrelevant, but what can be said is that Pfc. Piestewa serves as a prime example as a human being and as a fallen warrior deserves to be recognized as such.
Family, relatives and friends will honor Pfc. Piestewa for her conviction to service for freedom in this war on terror, and she will be highly respected for her industrious desire to set an example to her peers that culture (Hopi) identity was her source of pride.
The portrait of Pfc. Piestewa displays a genuine character that will be greatly honored, a legacy that expresses the many fine youth, Indian and non-Indian, serving in the U.S. Military — some who like Pfc. Piestewa will lose their life in this war against terror. But let us also remember, that Pfc. Piestewa stood as image depicting our ancestors of the Sovereign Nations of American Indians.
So as those of us who continue to march forward in our struggle of 510 years against racism and our political oppressors throughout Indian Country, let us remember this Fallen Warrior Pfc. Piestewa of the Hopi Sovereign Nation, who provided us with an insight of humanity. For she was not only a friend and roommate to Pfc. Jessica Lynch, but she was a loving mother and daughter, a human being who was not ashamed to be called a child of the Lord.
Today, we pay tribute to 22-year-old Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa and to her 4-year-old son, her 3-year-old daughter. We share your great loss and to Pfc. Piestewa’s family, we share your grief. All of Indian Country knows that our Indian women and men, like so many young American soldiers in the Iraq War, have paid the ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom. They all will be remembered not forgotten.
I sincerely agree that the members of the Special Forces who rescued Pfc. Jessica Lynch and recovered the 11 bodies, in which member’s of the 507th Maintenance Company were identified, who used their hands to retrieve these remains, proved indeed that they will not leave behind their injured or fallen comrades.
In closing, I honorably salute those brave soldiers for putting their lives on the line for such a daring rescue, may they and all the women and men of the coalition forces return safely to their families and loved ones.
(Larry Kibby, an enrolled member of the Sovereign Nation of the Wiyots of Northern California, resides in Elko, Nev.)