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First Lieutenant Laura Piper Will Be Honored at the NASCAR Memorial Weekend Race in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 21, 2024) – Purple Heart recipient First Lieutenant Laura Piper was known for the passion and commitment she brought to her chosen career path with the U.S. Air Force. That stellar trajectory was cut short when Laura was killed in action while deployed to Northern Iraq, the first female graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy to lose her life in a combat zone. Freeway Insurance is deeply honored to commemorate Laura by featuring her on Daniel Suarez’s #99 car’s windshield during the Charlotte race at NASCAR’s military appreciation weekend this May 26.

Laura Piper was in the fourth grade when she read in the Stars and Stripes newspaper that the Air Force Academy, her father’s alma mater, would begin admitting women. She graduated from Robinson High School in Fairfax, Virginia and received an appointment, graduating from the Academy in 1992. While there, she was a champion rugby player, and a champion shot putter for the school’s track-and-field team. She was a model cadet who became fluent in German and Russian.

She is buried near the same Air Force chapel in Colorado where she was baptized 25 years earlier. Six of Laura’s family members plan to attend Sunday’s race.

Honoring Laura on Memorial Day is especially meaningful for Freeway Insurance CEO Cesar Soriano. Not only is he a veteran himself, he had the opportunity to work with Laura at the Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort.

“Laura was a passionate and tenacious leader who represented our very best. We hit it off immediately since we shared a common background of growing up in a military family,” Cesar remembered. “I feel fortunate to be able to help ensure Laura’s service is not forgotten by featuring her on Freeway Insurance #99 car driven by Daniel Suarez.  Thirty years later, it is especially meaningful and special for me to be able to spend time with her mom, dad, brother, and the rest of her family here in Charlotte. I would like to thank NASCAR and Team Trackhouse for letting us honor our fallen heroes.” 

After Laura’s death, Cesar discovered her favorite poem was “The Station” by Robert Hastings:

Stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.

“I was not surprised given her enthusiasm, humor, and humility,” he said. “Today, her approach toward life is something I continue to strive toward. Every Memorial Day is very personal to me; I deeply reflect on Laura and the friends I served with who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation.”

The NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 celebrates its 65th anniversary at Charlotte on Sunday, May 26, beginning at 6 p.m. EST on the Fox Network. 

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