- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pvt. Erika Lopez, the first woman to register as an Army combat engineer in Tennessee, and the fourth to do so in the nation, has turned herself in to military officials after she went AWOL for a month. 

Tiffany Wood, a spokeswoman for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. told Army Times that Pvt. Lopez turned herself in to proper military authorities  on Thursday night. 

“Pvt. Lopez’s unit will look at all the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation and take appropriate action,” Ms. Wood said in a statement. She declined to provide further details.

Pvt. Lopez was supposed to report to Fort Leonard Wood on Jan. 4 after convalescent leave. She was considered absent without leave on Jan. 5 when she didn’t show up. After 30 days of being AWOL, Pvt. Lopez was considered a deserter. 

The Army lifted the ban on women enlisting as 12B combat engineers in June 2015. In December, Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all military combat roles to women with no exceptions. 


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