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Army Charges Female Combat Trainee With Desertion

The fourth female soldier the U.S. Army has ever placed in a combat role is in custody after being branded a deserter because she allegedly went AWOL for a month.

The Army’s Tiffany Wood told The Daily Mail that Erika Lopez “turned herself in to proper military authorities” last week. The spokeswoman said authorities “will look at the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation and take appropriate action.” Wood and Lopez are based at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

During her 11th week of training at the facility, Lopez went home on convalescent leave. The Knoxville, Tenn., native allegedly failed to return on Jan. 4, as she had been told to do. Thirty days later, the Army listed her as a deserter. “After 30 days in AWOL status, a soldier is considered a deserter, and a federal warrant is issued for his or her arrest,” Wood told the Army Times.

The military newspaper reported that Lopez enlisted as a combat engineer in 2015, and started training for the position in October. As a combat engineer, her responsibilities would have included “constructing bridges and fighting positions, handling explosives, and clearing paths for soldiers in combat zones,” an Army website explains.

The Pentagon ended its prohibition on women in combat in 2013. Last summer, Lopez told WVLT: “Women can do anything they set their mind to just as well as men. I don't really see any difference at all. I hope women will want to join.”

Photo: Army Times

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