Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Army Pfc. Tina M. Priest

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Tina M. Priest, 20, of Austin, Texas

Pfc Priest was assigned to the 4th Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Divison, Fort Hood, Texas; died March 1 from a non-combat-related injury in Taji, Iraq.

By Marty Toohey

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF


Friday, March 10, 2006

SMITHVILLE — Tina Priest, a U.S. Army soldier who served in Iraq, was born prematurely at 1 pound, 10 1/2 ounces. Doctors gave her a 1-in-10 chance of living.

"She was so small, you could hold her in your hand," her father, Tim Priest, said. "But she lived through that, and she really lived. Tina always lived life, to its fullest."

On Thursday, friends and family gathered at Smithville's First Baptist Church to celebrate Pfc. Tina Priest's life and mourn her death. She died in Iraq on March 1 of what the Army says was a gunshot wound to the chest in a noncombat situation. She was 20.

"It's hard to think of being in Iraq and not being in a combat situation," said Beverly Priest, Tina's grandmother.

More than 500 people — in a town of about 4,000 — heard Tina Priest eulogized as a lively spirit who grew up among them, who overcame obstacles throughout her life and who did so with a sharp sense of humor.

Her recruiter, Sgt. Corey Corwin, recalled receiving e-mails from her, some of which he told her the Department of Defense would not appreciate being transmitted via its computers.

"What are they going to do — send me back to Texas?" Corwin remembers her responding. "I'm already in Iraq."

Priest joined the Army after earning certification as a medical assistant and facing a tight local job market, her father said.

In the Army, she dealt with logistics, getting things where they need to be, and handled a machine gun mounted on a Humvee while deployed. A week after she arrived in Iraq, she was injured by shrapnel but returned to duty quickly.

"She was the last one I expected to join the armed services," Tim Priest said. "But she really believed in what she was doing."

In his room, Tim Priest has her military honors displayed: the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, a Military Merit Medal. Priest said he's been told two Purple Hearts are awaiting the approval of the secretary of defense.

The circumstances of Tina Priest's death remain a mystery. Her family says that the manner of death has raised their suspicions but that they understand they may have to wait for an investigation to conclude to get answers.

Army Pfc. Tina M. Priest died of non-combat injuries on 03/01/06.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We will never forget you, we are so proud. We'll see you again.

Anonymous said...

tina you were my cousen and one of my best friends i miss you so much and i never said it before you left but i love you and you will always be in my heart so please just always watch over me with my riding witch i know you do i love you and miss you and are so proud of what you did and cant wait to see you agian ill never forget you and never let you out of my heart! love always~~mellinie allison gifford~~moo

Tiffany said...

Well, it's been almost a year and not a day goes by that I don't think of you... "Miss ya tons chica!" You will always be my number one hearo..

Your sissy,
Tiff