Piestewa Hall dedication
Piestewa Hall was dedicated Nov. 30 in honor of Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first female Soldier to die during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first known female Native American Soldier to die in combat.

The Directorate of Training Sustainment headquarters, Building 5310, was dedicated Wednesday as Piestewa Hall, in honor of 23-year-old Spc. Lori Piestewa -- the first female Soldier to die during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first known Native American female Soldier to die during combat.

Ground was broken for the newly dedicated Piestewa Hall in February 2009 and was completed in 2010. The 27,000-square-foot building houses more than 95 civilian and 70 administrative workers, drivers, medics, petroleum and ammunition specialist, and ammunition Soldiers, said Scott Fabozzi, director of DOTS.

Fabozzi said the headquarters building provides the Maneuver Center of Excellence with the required logistics resources in support of Soldier training across Fort Benning.

"It is only fitting and appropriate that this building -- the hub of logistics support at this installation -- is named Piestewa Hall -- in honor of Specialist Lori Piestewa, who was a Soldier logistician herself," he said.

Piestewa was born and raised in Tuba City, Ariz., on a Navajo reservation. She enlisted in the Army in 2001, and following basic training and advanced individual training, was assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company and deployed with her unit to Iraq in March 2003.

As part of a 600-vehicle convoy, her unit made its way across Iraq, but the heavier vehicles fell behind and became isolated from the much faster vehicles.

On March 23 -- due to a navigation error -- three 507th Maintenance vehicles ended up in the town of Nasiriyah. Once the error was known, two of the vehicles were able to turn around and correct their navigation , escaping under heavy gunfire. The third vehicle, a Humvee driven by Piestewa, suffered heavy damage and casualties. Piestewa managed to help rescue two other Soldiers, but due to increasing attacks and road obstructions, her vehicle was hit by enemy fire and crashed.

Piestewa's first sergeant was killed and she suffered head injuries. She and other survivors were captured; however, Piestewa died in captivity due to her injuries.

Piestewa is survived by her parents, Terry, a Vietnam veteran, and Priscilla and her two children, Brandon Whiterock and Carla Piestewa.

Lori's Family traveled from Arizona to attend the ceremony.

"It's very honoring and very humbling to be here, to know that these people are recognizing her -- that the whole world and different places continue to recognize what she has done for her country," Priscilla said.

For Lori's actions, she was promoted posthumously to specialist and received the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals.

In 2003, the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names renamed Squaw Peak to Piestewa Peak in her honor. Piestewa Peak is the second-highest point in the Phoenix Mountains at 2,608 feet, and is located in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.

Page last updated Wed December 7th, 2011 at 00:00