Update November 14, 2003: The American Indian College Fund has established a college fund in honor of Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa.
Lori had two small children at the time of her death. The scholarship will go toward any remaining unmet financial needs for college that her children have when they become college age, after taking into account other scholarships that have already been established for them. Any remaining funds will be used to underwrite an annual scholarship to a tribal college or university for a female American Indian military veteran. To learn more about this fund, visit the American Indian College Fund online.
Update April 5, 2003: Last night the Pentagon confirmed that Lori Piestewa was one of the soldiers killed in action. Her body was one of those found at the hospital where Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued. It is still unclear if the Americans of the 507th were killed at the time they were ambushed, or later.
The war against Iraq hit close to home when it was learned that Lori Piestewa, 22 years old, is among 10 to 12 members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss who remain missing or captured. Lori Piestewa was a Tuba City High School graduate.
Piestewa, an Army private first class, was identified as belonging to the company whose members were captured on March 23, 2003 near the southern Iraqi city of An Nasiriyah after an ambush.
She is the daughter of Terry and Percy Piestewa of Moenkopi, AZ. Her older brother, Wayland Piestewa of Tuba City, said his sister joined the military about two years ago and was deployed about four weeks ago. She has a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
Military officials officially notified their parents that she was missing. They did not say for certain that she is a prisoner of war, but they told her parents that they could not account for her. Television reports confirm that some members of her company were known to have been captured. Five of them were seen in an Iraqi state-run video broadcast on Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic language TV news network. The others, including Lori Piestewa, officials told the family, are missing and feared captured or dead. Pfc. Lori Piestewa was a member of Fort Bliss' 507th, which conducts repairs and other support services for the 5-52 Battalion of the 11th Air Defense, consisting of five Patriot missile batteries. In the Middle East, the company was attached to 3rd Infantry Division.
Between 250 and 300 friends and family members gathered at St. Jude's Church in Tuba City, to pray that Lori and all the troops return home.