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The mournful notes of a solitary bugler blowing taps rose into the breezeless desert air. In a final roll call, her name -- Analaura Esparza -- was intoned three times, with long pauses between, as if she might answer. Hundreds of soldiers from the U. A world away, in a tidy middle-class neighborhood outside Houston, where wildflowers line the sidewalks and every other house seems to have a basketball hoop in the driveway, the cries of a mother who had lost her only child echoed through a cul-de-sac Friday.
Esparza, known to her friends as Lissy, was the th American soldier to die in Iraq or Kuwait since the start of the war. But she was only the fourth female fatality, and her death underscored the lack of distinction between traditional combat and support roles in a war in which the front lines are everywhere and nowhere. That is particularly true in places like Tikrit, where U. In Iraq, women serve in all units except those specifically designated for combat: infantry, artillery and armor. The women who served alongside Esparza in Tikrit insist, with fierce and wholehearted pride, on their status as soldiers first, with gender inconsequential.
Amanda Lee Dorsey, a no-nonsense military police officer who regularly goes out on patrols and convoy-escort missions around Tikrit. But these same soldiers acknowledge that their loved ones, and the public at large, tend to view them a bit differently, if only because of their status as a minority.
The 4th Infantry, based at Ft. Josslyn Aberle. The Army was supposed to be a means to an end for Esparza, who at age 7 immigrated with her family to the United States from Monterrey, Mexico. In school, she was a member of the French honor club and developed an eye for photography. So she enlisted in the Army in May as a supply specialist. She figured she would serve a couple of years, come home and maybe go to Rice University or the University of Houston. Esparza trained at Ft.
Jackson, S. Lee, Va. Along the way, she had found love -- with Spc. Jose Gomez, an infantryman from the Bronx in the nd Task Force, to which her supply company was attached.