LIVINGSTON, CA, USA U.S. Army PFC, COMPANY B 16TH SIGNAL BATTALION, FORT HOOD, TX 76544 AL FALLUHAH, IRAQ 11/02/2003
On November 2, 2003, Army Private First Class Karina Lau was among 16 Americans killed when a shoulder-fired missile shot down the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter she was in. She and the others were in route to several days of rest and recuperation. She was twenty years old.
Karina Lau was something of a prodigy: She graduated eighth in her high school class of 200, sang the national anthem at the June 2001 graduation ceremony and had a four-year music scholarship to the University of the Pacific in Stockton. The daughter of Chinese and Mexican immigrants, Karina would have been the first in the family to graduate from a four-year university.
Karina’s family wonders whether they could have done more to stop their daughter from leaving college and joining the military. Two months into college, she told her parents that she had enlisted in the Army. Her enlistment photo shows her smiling broadly and wearing a Pacific Tigers sweatshirt. She played a dozen or more instruments, including the clarinet and saxophone. Since her death, teachers and students at Livingston High have raised nearly $25,000 for a Karina Lau music scholarship fund.
After completing basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, she went to Fort Gordon, Georgia and trained in communications where she graduated at the top of her class. She was also assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.
Karina had just a few hours before the flight emailed to say that she was going on R & R. Other emails spoke of the reality of the hot desert and the need to remain armed. Other notes spoke about her enjoyment of pizza, Matchbox 20 music and Vin Diesel in ‘Fast and Furious’.