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Army vet uses combat experience to empower kids

Posted at 9:50 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 00:50:08-05

An Army veteran who once considered killing herself is using her story of strength to inspire kids through a new children's book.

"You have to persevere no matter how bad it is," Karolyn Smith said.

It is what the book is all about.  It is something her team leader, Lt. Tim Price, taught her in Iraq.

Smith was the machine gunner, an extremely rare position for women. Smith had to be fierce to survive in a man's world; on a field of fighters.

"You didn't get to be a girl anymore," Smith explained.

With about 200 combat patrols, there was no time for feelings.

"It was brutal," she said. "Every single day we'd get hit, car bombs, roadside bombs, small arms fire."
Debilitating back pain plagued her body, and after her final patrol with price, horror ravaged her heart and mind.

"(Lt. Tim Price and I) both stepped out and a sniper shot him in the face," Smith explained.

She give him CPR despite all the blood

"It was his number, and it was just, they won that day," she said through tears.

The memories haunted her on home soil.

I was done," she explained. "I was sitting on my bed with a 45."

She recalled Price telling her to persevere, so she tried. Then, when she rescued two kittens, they helped rescue her.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, that like makes me happy'!"

Sophia was found abandoned in a field when she was only two-weeks-old. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her leg, so a vet had to amputate it.

"She has her own story of perseverance," Smith added.

The three-legged cat was the first to get a prosthetic leg.

The book is based on their tale. It is meant to teach kids they can overcome anything. It is an ending Smith never thought she would see.

"He'd be proud of me," she said as she smiled through the tears.

Sophia will be at the launch of "Sophia the Bionic Cat" at the main library downtown on Jan. 14. Click here to learn more about the book.