The role of women in combat has been a controversial issue in the U.S. armed forces for decades. Yet, it has been only 30 years since the first women graduated from the US Military Academy, and only since 9/11 have large numbers of them served in combat zones alongside their male counterparts. This article examines the all-too-brief life of one of them, 2LT Emily Perez, who was the first female graduate of West Point to be killed in the line of fire in Iraq and the first member of the "Class of 9/11" to die in combat. A statistical comparison of female representation at the three major U.S. service academies is included, along with a discussion of the emergence of minorities. An African-American with paternal roots in Puerto Rico, this soldier epitomized all that is right about women serving in combat, willing to sacrifice their lives for the interests of their country. 2LT Perez's legacy lives on today among her family, friends, classmates, fellow soldiers, and the unique charitable causes promoting the values she held dear. The following is a tribute to "Emily's Way."
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