Miss England First Runner-up Katrina Hodges experienced hand-to-hand combat in Basra during a posting to Iraq, but still maintains her scariest ever moment was taking to the catwalk
She has dedicated her life so far to fighting for her country, but tonight, lance corporal Katrina Hodge has a very different goal. The squaddie is to swap her camouflage gear for a bikini to compete alongside 50 other girls for the title of Miss England.
The accidental beauty queen was entered into the local heats in her hometown of Tunbridge Wells by a friend, and was stunned when she took the crown, winning herself entry into the Miss England race.
But despite touring Iraq and engaging in hand-to-hand combat in Basra, the 22-year-old, who has been decorated for her bravery, claims that the most frightening thing she has ever done is to take to the catwalk.
Katrina was awarded a commendation from her unit, the 1st Batallion, Royal Anglian Regiment for her actions during a posting in 2005 in Basra.
'We arrested an Iraqi suspect we wanted to question and were taking him back to the prison when we were involved in a road accident,' she says.
'Our vehicle rolled over and when I came round the Iraqi had escaped and had our weapons. I knew I had to do something or he would have shot us all dead. It was a real do or die moment.'
'My training just kicked in and I managed to disarm him, get the weapons back and restrain him.
But incredibly though, while Katrina casually describes her efforts to save her peers in Basra as just part of the job, her reaction to her turn on the catwalk is far less understated, incredibly describing it as her most terrifying challenge yet.
'To be honest, the scariest moment of my life was stepping onto a catwalk for the first time,' she told the Daily Star. 'It was so far out of my comfort zone. I was terrified'
In a beauty pageant first, Katrina is hoping to impress the judges with her fitness and dexterity with a gun.
'For the talent section I'm doing rifle drill and throwing myself through an assault course. It's the first time anyone has ever done anything like this for Miss England but I wanted to show off my Army skills.'
'I'm really excited about the competition and fingers crossed, a miracle will happen and I'll win.'
And if she does win tonight, Katrina hopes she'll make a serious difference for the troops.
'It would be fantastic for the Army if I won Miss England,' she said. 'I think it would be a much-needed boost to the troops.
'It would also give me the chance to be able to encourage people to support the Forces. I really think British people need to be more patriotic and give more backing to the troops.
The Army made me who I am today and now I want to give something back. My main ambition if I won would be to promote the Forces and raise awareness of their charities.'
Aside from the support she might have earned for the troops, Katrina says she's pleased her achievements in the Miss England competition have given her the opportunity to show that Army girls can be feminine.
'People do think it's quite unusual for a soldier to be in a beauty pageant but I have had a really positive response, says Katrina.
A lot of people have got in contact with me as a result of entering Miss England because they've wanted to join the Army but they were too scared. They've thought it would be really butch and female-unfriendly.
But people have said I've inspired them to join up and that I've shown them how normal girly girls can succeed.
I think I'm showing that women in the Army can be pretty and girly but also that girls who enter beauty pageants don't have to be bimbos.
Some of the other Miss England girls are training to be lawyers and barristers. They're not dumb at all.'
Battle for Miss England: Lance Corporal Katrina Hodges has swapped her camouflage gear for a bikini to take on 50 contestants to win the title