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Hopi woman listed as missing in Iraq

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PHOENIX -The family of Hopi Army private Lori Piestewa received word March 23 that she was as among a group of soldiers as missing in action in Iraq.

Pfc. Piestewa, 22, a member of the 507th Maintenance Co. was deployed last month with the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The 507th, mostly mechanics, keep diesel tanker trucks rolling, fix generators and keep mechanical parts in good shape. According to reports, Piestewa's unit was ambushed March 23 near An Nasiriyah in southwestern Iraq.

Iraqi television has questioned at least two American POWs who have said they were with the 507th.

In a report by the Arizona Daily Sun, Wayland Piestewa, brother of Pfc. Piestewa said he thinks that his sister will be resilient in the Iraqi desert because she grew up in Arizona and participated in ROTC in high school.

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"She's a tough kid, and she keeps her head about her and her wits about her," he said. "The terrain is semiarid desert, so our hope is that she's out there staying put, staying alive and staying smart."

Piestewa, a graduate of Tuba City High School, joined the military about two years ago and was deployed about four weeks ago. She's married and has a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.

Spokeswomen for the Hopi Tribe, Vanessa Charles, said Piestewa is from Lower Moencopi and is related to several families on the Hopi reservation.

According to the report in the Arizona Sun, "the young Hopi woman's family released a statement March 25 expressing 'gratitude for the outpouring of love and prayers' from the Hopi and Navajo communities and asking the media to respect their privacy.

Hopi Tribal Chairman, Wayne Taylor also issued a statement about the young solider and all serving in the current conflict. "This situation is quite unexpected and it is deeply affecting us here at Hopi. At this time, we are keeping the Piestewa family in our prayers and hopes that she and the other missing soldiers will be safely returned home to their families."