U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Emily Perez a.k.a. "Kobe" was the first black woman at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to reach the rank of Corps Commander Sergeant Major. She was nicknamed "Kobe" because she "always made the shots" according to family and friends. A 2005 graduate, Perez was fluent in German and a straight "A" student. Perez also served as a star on the Army's 400-meter relay team. Her first assignment after graduation was convoy leader as a Medical Service Corps Operator in Iraq. She was assigned to the 204th Support Battalion of the first Infantry Division.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Perez was no stranger to the military. She carried aspirations of attending the academy after high school. She opted to use her free time to volunteer at the American Red Cross in Alexandria, VA then with her local church to educate people in the community about HIV/AIDS when family members were diagnosed.
In September 2006, Perez' Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. She wasn't supposed to drive that day, but told a subordinate he wasn't ready to lead the convoy. She was not required to take the lead, but opted for command. The other soldiers in the vehicle suffered minor injuries while another lost his legs. Perez did not survive.
Her legacy is left with a street in Iraq called "Emily's Way."
Since her passing, Emily's parents, David and Vicki Perez started the Emily Perez Foundation in their daughter's honor.
Perez was the first black female graduate of West Point to perish and the 64th woman to be killed in Iraq.