Sister Shares Story of Padua Grad and First Female from DE to Die in Combat

Elizabeth Loncki was the first female from Delaware to die in combat

Veterans Day is a day that resonates very close to my heart. My sister, Elizabeth Loncki, was the first female from Delaware to die in combat.

After graduating from Padua Academy and attending the University of Arizona briefly, she enlisted in the Air Force in 2003, as service to our country was a cause she deeply believed in. Elizabeth was a beautiful, petite, young woman, and not someone you would imagine to be a member of the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), the highest challenge you can have in the Air Force.

After achieving a high score on the Air Force entry test, Elizabeth chose to serve as a bomb disposal technician – an assignment assumed by very few women in the military. In her year-long deployment to Iraq, she ended up saving hundreds of people’s lives. Her team –  Team Lima – successfully executed 194 missions on the outskirts of Baghdad, resulting in the safe disarming of 129 IED’s. 

Elizabeth Loncki receives a care package on her deployment to Iraq

In January of 2007, her explosive ordnance disposal team was targeted by a car bomber near Baghdad, resulting in the death of her and her other team members. Elizabeth was only 23-years-old.

Elizabeth was scheduled to return home to New Castle only 20 days after her passing, and her boyfriend had a flight booked to Delaware to ask my dad for her hand in marriage.

I tell you this story because situations like this are common for military families all over the nation. My sister, just like thousands of others, paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. She joined the Air Force saying, “If I could only save one life, it would be worth it.” She fulfilled this many times over, according to the United States Air Force. 

Olivia Loncki, 22, at the dedication of the Loncki Memorial Bridge in Dover on October 12, 2018

One of the many medals my sister received was the Purple Heart Medal of Honor for wounds suffered in combat. And our entire family was so proud last month when the State dedicated a bridge over Del. 1 at Dover Airforce Base in her honor.

My sister’s sacrifice for our country, just like the sacrifice of thousands of other military members, will never be forgotten.

Today, we honor and remember all military veterans and show our gratitude for their bravery, courage, and selflessness as they risked their lives in order to protect our own and our freedom. These brave heroes deserve our appreciation every day for their bravery, courage, and strength.

Olivia’s sister Elizabeth Loncki

I personally know the severe impact that the loss of a service member does to a family. Although I was young at the time, the pain never subsides. I am reminded of Elizabeth every day I push myself to achieve a higher goal, just as my sister did. 

I hope this Veterans Day we can come together to give back since our Veterans are the reason we have the freedom to the things we enjoy every day.

As the owner of Pure Barre, Olivia Loncki will be accepting donations for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Military Order of the Purple Heart at her studio in Greenville on November 12th.


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About the Contributor

Olivia Loncki

Olivia Loncki

Olivia Loncki is the proud sister of a Delaware Gold Star hero and is the owner of Pure Barre Greenville. She was previously the manager of Pure Barre before assuming ownership in September. Loncki attended University of Delaware as a student in the business school, majoring in Management.


  • We were in DE the middle of October for our daughter’s retirement and crossed the bridge dedicated to your sister. Our daughter explained who she was. We are retired Army and do have some vague idea of what your family has and is going through. God bless you and all your family I will keep you in my prayers. Thank you for your sacrifice for our nation.

  • God bless you and your family for the sacrifices you have all made. I am the bomb squad commander for the Delaware State Police and her prayer card hangs in each of our bomb trucks above the door. It’s a reminder to us how fast life can be taken away even though you are doing everything right.

  • Your/our loss is a tragedy but also a celebration of the life of a true American hero. What your sister did is what freedom is all about. God bless her and her team, and may he comfort you and your family.