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combat kat's glamorous

By unknown | Dec 15, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

KATRINA HODGE, 22, certainly doesn't look as if she's wrestled an Iraqi to the floor with her bare hands.

KATRINA HODGE, 22, certainly doesn't look as if she's wrestled an Iraqi to the floor with her bare hands.

In fact, in a black silk dress and kitten heels at the Johannesburg Hyatt in South Africa, her billet last week for the Miss World finals, the current Miss England looks as if she might have difficulty shutting down a stroppy chihuahua. She's not even sure she likes the word "wrestled".

"Pleeeease don't use it," she squeals. "The word I've been given permission to use by the army is 'used reasonable force'. 'Wrestled' makes me sound like a brute!"

Anyway, said wrestling happened in 2005, on tour in Iraq, during a routine search in Basra, because Lance-Corporal Hodge is not only an international beauty queen, she is also a serving soldier based in Aldershot, Surrey, southern England.

At barely 18 she had just been sent to fight in the Middle East, an experience she found "hot, very dusty, a challenge that made me grow up fast".

Especially when, driving along a road one day, "our vehicle was unexpectedly involved in a road traffic accident", she recalls. "We rolled over but when we came to an Iraqi had taken our weapons." She promptly retrieved the weapons and, after "giving him a whack" - La Senza underwear, since you ask - she saved the lives of her comrades, an act of bravery that earned her a commendation.

"To me, it was nothing special. It's the job. The training," she says now. Actually, she's not naturally aggressive. "No, not at all," she trills.

This suddenly makes me wonder whether she's killed anyone. She can't go into detail, she says. What does she feel like when she fires a gun, then? Whoo-hoo? "I don't want to answer that either, but try paint balling. It's the same."

What do her fellow beauty queens make of all this? For the past six weeks, Hodge, who has been entering beauty competitions for several years and unexpectedly acquired the Miss England crown last month, has been on tour of South Africa with all of them, attending gala dinners and opening penguin sanctuaries to drum up interest ahead of the finals. She smiles.

"The other girls come up to me and say, 'Miss England' - I thought I was going to be called Kat, but there's 120 of us so it's easier to be called by your country name - 'Miss England, is it true you're a soldier? You're so girlie.' They're always shocked."

They could equally be shocked by her almost Jordan-like preoccupation with the colour pink. It's all over her desk, for starters, and when she turned up in the army six years ago, she arrived "with pink suitcases, and everyone started to call me Combat Barbie".

Still, no silky tangas at work. "I don't wear any make-up," she says. "I'm very professional. I like having two sides. When I do get glammed up everyone goes, wow, you scrub up well."

Is she fighting off squaddie admirers? She giggles. "I haven't had any offers. After all, the lads at work always see me at my best: hair gelled back, covered in mud, falling over during a training exercise." - Sunday Times News Service


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