Karina S Lau

Karina S Lau

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U.S. Army
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’.  

Karina’s portrait is also located on Poster 3 and Poster 4


3 Responses to “Karina S Lau”
  1. Isabela says:

    my dad sister was a brave solder and i wish i got to meet her my best wishish

  2. SGT Paul Preble says:


    My name is SGT Paul Preble I knew PFC Lau fairly well and seemed to be someone she would seek out for mentoring and advice. She once told me that I was a large reason she made it through what is called Advanced Initial Training (think of it as training for the job you will do) and stayed in the military. Their is a contrast I deal with regarding her on one hand I am fiercely proud of her for staying the course and willing putting herself in a position where she would be required to give up her life in defense of her country. The other side of that is perhaps if I had not been so adamant in my advice she would still be among us living her life with what ever regrets she might of carried along from leaving the Army.
    Is there a link to this scholarship fund that you know of? I would like to post it on my social media as I think it is a fitting legacy as any who knew her understood how talented she was. As well as the pure joy that music brought her both listening and performing it.

  3. Raul Martinez says:

    I think about Karina Lau all the time and it was an honor to have met and served with her. I remember this horrible day when the Chinook was shot down. I remember how excited she was to head back home for R&R. I still will continue to pray for her and her family. I will never forget you Karina Lau and I know you are missed by so many still. God bless you and your family.

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