Tennessee’s first female combat arms recruit reported AWOL

Tennessee’s first female combat engineer recruit since the MOS was opened to women has gone AWOL, according to the US Army sources.

Private (E-1) Erika Lopez of the Knoxville area enlisted in July of 2015, beginning her Basic Combat Training (BCT) on 22 September of the same year, making headlines in Tennessee as she left behind her husband and two children to become the state’s first female Combat Engineer.

“You make sacrifices your whole life for your children and for your family, this will be a sacrifice.”, Lopez was quoted in saying last year as she embarked for BCT. “Women can do anything they set their mind to just as well as men I don’t really see any difference at all. I hope women will want to join.”

However, according to Ryan, from the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office, Lopez did not return from convalescent leave on January 4th of this year and was reported Absent Without Leave (AWOL) the following day.

According to the US Army, a federal warrant for her arrest is to be issued after thirty consecutive days in AWOL status, wherein Lopez will immediately be handed over to the Military Police upon the event of her discovery, self-surrender or arrest.
Further inquiries into the nature of her absence, unit affiliation and requests for statements from her chain of command or personal acquaintances received no response.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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