As a female military police officer, US Army Staff Sergeant Katteri Franklin had a much different experience than her fellow male Soldiers while serving in Iraq.
"The Iraqi women would stare at me and I would ask them what they were looking at," reflected Franklin. Their response would be that they had never seen a woman in uniform before."
Despite their initial curiosity and sometimes shock, the Iraqi women learned to trust Franklin and consider her an ally. She was able to use her gender to her advantage by helping them be more comfortable around U.S. servicemembers.
"The Iraqi women would seek me out when they needed medical or aid supplies, "said Franklin."They felt more comfortable around me."
Due to Franklin's willingness to interact closely with the Iraqi civilians, she became a critical part of ensuring that the local women and children had access to aid and medical treatment during her mission. Franklin's service in Iraq earned her a Bronze Star...
Much more here. Be sure to click the video link for an interview SSG Franklin did for the Pentagon Channel.
From the Official Homepage of the US Army comes this interview:
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Bronze star recipient 'knows her job'
Apr 30, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Staff Sergeant Katteri Franklin knew all along she wanted to be a police officer, but had no idea she would eventually want to make a career of it in the military. The McCleary, native was simply looking for a way to make a better life for herself, while helping others along the way.
"I didn't want kids to go through some of the things that I went through growing up, so I thought that by becoming a police officer, I would be able to help make a difference," said Franklin, NCO in charge of military police investigations, 51st Military Police Detachment, 504th Military Police Battalion.
Since enlisting, Franklin has deployed twice and seen more in her 10 years as an MP than many will in a lifetime.
"I can honestly say I've been there and seen that," she said.
One particular scene that stood out in her mind was an incident that occurred during her deployment to Iraq in 2007.
Franklin reluctantly described rendering aid to an Iraqi man who approached her after being shot in the head. While wrapping bandages around the Iraqi to keep his eye from dangling, Franklin discovered the bullet had left a gaping hole in the back of his head.
"I stuck my hands in his head and touched his brain," Franklin said.
Adding that it was her duty to help the Iraqi, she said, "That's what we do as American Soldiers. We help others."
It wasn't the only time she helped a complete stranger.
Franklin's actions during a mortar attack on that same deployment were vital to the survival of a Polish soldier. Franklin was taking cover when she heard someone yell for a medic. Franklin responded by running to the site of impact with a combat lifesaver's bag in hand.
Upon arrival, she found a Polish soldier with two sucking chest wounds.
"I pushed a (coalition) soldier out of the way, then myself and (another) guy, who I later found out was a medic, rendered aid to the Polish soldier," Franklin said.
While neither of the former events was formally recognized, she was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, for her actions in October 2007.
Franklin was providing security for coalition forces while they emplaced barriers for a temporary patrol base in southern Iraq when her team became engaged in a complex attack. The battle lasted nearly an hour, during which Franklin rendered aid to two wounded Soldiers, returned fire and pulled two key leaders to safety.
Franklin was one of four to receive Bronze Star Medals for their efforts, which, according to the citation, "contributed greatly to the survival of the wounded."
Yet, Franklin hardly considers herself a hero. Instead, she credits the training she received as a Soldier and years of experience.
"It's almost like going into autopilot," Franklin said. "To me, I'm just doing what I was trained to do."....
More on this Every Day Hero here.
Thank you for your service, SSG Franklin.