emilyperez

Emily Jazmin Tatum Perez (19 February 1983–12 September 2006) was the first female minority Cadet Command Sergeant Major in the history of 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 was wing commander of Junior ROTC. While in high school, working with the District’s Peace Baptist Church, Perez helped begin an HIV-AIDS ministry after family members contracted the virus.

In July 2001, after graduation from high school, Perez attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. There she was an exemplary student and talented track athlete. Following graduation from West Point, she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 204th Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Perez 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. Her decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star , Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Combat Action Badge. She posthumously received the NCAA Award of Valor in 2008.

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