The Department of Defense says that one of the soldiers killed over the weekend (and one of the 16 who have died so far in December) was Army Staff Sergeant Cari Anne Gasiewicz, 28 (according to the Army Times, she’d been promoted from specialist just this fall). She was in a convoy hit by two IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs. The Buffalo News reports she was from Cheektowaga, New York, spoke fluent Arabic, and was serving in a military intelligence battalion.
A soldier who was riding in Gasiewicz’s truck and who was wounded herself in the attack has blogged an account of the incident. (Later: And here, another soldier blogger describes his acquaintance with Sgt. Gasiewicz in Iraq before she was killed.)
In May, the Buffalo News interviewed Gasiewicz as part of a story on the challenges facing military women stationed in Iraq. From that story:
“Cari Gasiewicz, a Depew native who holds the rank of specialist in the Army’s Military Intelligence Battalion based out of Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., speaks Arabic fluently. She has been working as an linguist in Iraq since earlier this year.
“Her job is to talk to the Iraqis about their feelings on the American presence there, the war effort and similar subjects.
“Children, especially, seem very open to the women soldiers, she said.
” ‘The children love talking to American soldiers. They are amazed that American females know how to speak Arabic,’ said Gasiewicz, who attended Canisius College for three years before joining the Army.
“Gasiewicz said she hopes to be home early next year.
“One day, while on duty, she said, she made friends with a group of Iraqi children — and was amazed by their reaction to her.
” ‘They were talking to me like crazy,’ she wrote in an e-mail from her station in Iraq, just west of Baghdad. ‘Right before I left, one of the kids tapped me on my arm and gave me one of his marbles as a gift.’ ”
” … Women soldiers face much the same challenges as male ones. Of course, there are a few dilemmas that are unique.
“Marriage proposals, for example.
“Gasiewicz, 27,received three proposals from Iraqi men in the past few months.
” ‘They were all very young,’ Gasiewicz wrote in an e-mail. ‘I think one was 15 — the time they get married here — one was 22, and the other was 35 and had three wives already. So I had to let them down nicely.’
She’s the 28th Army woman to die in Iraq, including one from the Army Reserve, four from the Army National Guard, and a civilian Army employee.