First Female Combat Engineer Enlistee From Tennessee Goes AWOL – American Military News

First Female Combat Engineer Enlistee From Tennessee Goes AWOL

Erika Lopez made headlines this past July when she enlisted in Knoxville, TN for a position that could involve fighting on the front lines. By September, Erika Lopez was at basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

The wife and mother of 2 was learning how to build bridges, detonate artillery, and detect roadside bombs as a combat engineers.

Lopez said at the time about her enlistment: “It makes me feel really excited that no woman has ever done it before.”

Well now this feel-good story has turned bad as she has been reported AWOL after not returning from convalescent leave when it ended January 4. If she doesn’t return soon, things could go from bad to worse.

Spokesperson Tiffany Wood said in a statement “After 30 days in an AWOL status, a Soldier is considered a deserter and a federal warrant is issued for his or her arrest.” 

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From Local 8 Knoxville:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – The first woman in Tennessee to enlist as a combat engineer in the Army went AWOL according to a military spokesperson.

Local 8 News was first to tell you about Erika Lopez back in July of 2015. She made headlines when she enlisted for a job that could involve fighting on the front lines.

The U.S. Army had just lifted its ban on women in combat roles when she walked into a recruiting office in Knoxville and decided to enlist as a combat engineer.

Lopez was in basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. An Army spokesperson tells Local 8 News that Private Lopez was scheduled to return from convalescent leave on January 4th. She was reported absent without leave (AWOL) on January 5th after she failed to return.

Spokesperson Tiffany Wood issued a statement saying, “After 30 days in an AWOL status, a Soldier is considered a deserter and a federal warrant is issued for his or her arrest.”

Read more at Local 8 Knoxville

Do you think this will hurt the broader perception that women belong in equal roles as men in the military? Sound off in the comments below!