The United States Army announced recently that Lori Piestewa has been promoted posthumously from the rank of private first class to Army specialist.
Piestewa, a 23-year-old Hopi mother of two young children, is believed to be the first Native American woman killed in combat while serving in the U.S. military and is the only American female soldier killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
She was based in Fort Bliss, Texas, and died on March 23rd, 2003 in southern Iraq.
The city of Phoenix began the process of renaming the Squaw Peak Recreation Area and two trails within the city-owned park after Piestewa.
The city Parks Board will set up a public comment procedure with the goal of having a final recommendation by June 26.
In Washington, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said a report into what happened to the ambushed is complete. It’s expected to be released in mid-June, after Piestewa’s family and the families of other unit members have had a chance to see it.
Along with a visit to the White House and a ceremony at a servicewomen’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, the Piestewas have met with rescued prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who also was a member of the 507th, and was Lori Piestewa’s friend.
The family says it will not talk about its visit with Lynch, who is recuperating at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Piestewa’s promotion lifts her to a grade of E-4. That is one grade higher than private first class, and one below a sergeant. An Army corporal also is an E-4.
The promotion would have meant an added $200 a month in pay. Unfortunately, it will not impact the survivor’s benefits for her children.
Piestewa was eligible for the promotion prior to her deployment to Iraq, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.