PHOENIX - Relatives of an Army private who grew up in northern Arizona received word that she was among a group of soldiers listed as missing in action in Iraq, her brother said.
Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 22, is a member of the 507th Maintenance Co. out of Fort Bliss, Texas, said her older brother, Wayland Piestewa of Tuba City. Military officials have said several soldiers from the unit are missing.
Wayland Piestewa said two Army officers visited his parents Sunday night to tell them that his sister was listed as an MIA.
“My parents knew from television news that it was her unit that was attacked, so they were worried pretty much all day long,’’ Piestewa said in a phone interview. “They had called Fort Bliss after hearing that one woman was a prisoner, but (the Army) said that it wasn’t Lori.’’
Officers told them five other people and their vehicle were also unaccounted for, Piestewa said.
Army officials at Fort Bliss couldn’t confirm that Lori Piestewa was missing.
“We can’t confirm anything until all families have been notified,’’ said Sgt. Mark Porter, a post spokesman.
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.
At least two American POWs who have been questioned on Iraqi television have said they were with the 507th.
On Monday night, about 200 people attended a prayer service in Lori Piestewa’s honor at St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Tuba City, a community on the Navajo Reservation in northeast Arizona.
Several members of the Piestewa family spoke during the two-hour gathering, encouraging people to remain hopeful, said the Rev. Godden Menard.
“They encouraged everyone to pray, feeling that there was still hope that she could be found,’’ Menard said. “That’s what we’re still holding on to.’’
Wayland 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.
“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 said his sister, 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, he said.