Emily Perez

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Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez
Emily Perez.jpg
Born(1983-02-19)February 19, 1983
Heidelberg, West Germany
DiedSeptember 12, 2006(2006-09-12) (aged 23)
KIA in Al Kifl, Iraq
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service2005–2006
RankSecond Lieutenant
Unit204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsBronze Star
Purple Heart
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez (19 February 1983 – 12 September 2006) was a Cadet Command Sergeant Major in the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Born in Heidelberg, West Germany, of African American and Hispanic parents in a U.S. military family, she graduated from Oxon Hill High School in Maryland, where she ranked among the top-10 students in her class. In July 2001, after graduation from high school, Perez entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. There she was an exemplary student and talented track athlete, becoming the highest-ranking African-American female cadet in the history of West Point. Following graduation from West Point in 2005, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Perez was killed in action on September 12, 2006, while leading a convoy through Al Kifl, Iraq, a mission for which she had volunteered. She was the first female African-American officer in US military history to die in combat.


Grave of Emily Perez, West Point Cemetery (2013)

Perez was deployed to Iraq in December as a Medical Service Corps officer. She was killed when a makeshift bomb exploded near her Humvee during combat operations in Al Kifl, near Najaf. Aged 23, she was the first female graduate of West Point to die in the Iraq War, the first West Point graduate of the "Class of 9/11" to die in combat, and the first female African-American officer to die in combat.

Lieutenant Perez's military awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Combat Action Badge. She posthumously received the NCAA Award of Valor in 2008.

Emily Perez was the 64th female member of the U.S. military to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and the 40th West Point graduate killed since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Another female West Point graduate, Laura M. Walker of the Class of 2003, was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.

Perez was interred at the West Point Cemetery.

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