Page last updated at 00:31 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 01:31 UK

Squaddie makes Miss England final

Katrina Hodge
Katrina Hodge is a part-time model and a soldier in the British Army

A female soldier who once fought off a suspected Iraqi insurgent has won a place in the final of Miss England.

Katrina Hodge, 21, will participate in the contest in July, having already won the Miss Tunbridge Wells crown.

L/Cpl Hodge was nicknamed Combat Barbie in 2005 after being given a bravery commendation for saving the lives of members of her regiment in Iraq.

They were held at gunpoint when their vehicle overturned but L/Cpl Hodge punched the gunman and took his rifles.

She said: "I was in complete shock at first. The force of the accident caused our vehicle to roll over three times and threw us off guard.

"As I came round, the Iraqi suspect was standing over us with the rifles. I knew if I didn't act fast then our lives would be in danger.

"I punched him and the force startled him enough for me to retrieve the rifles from him."

Miss Hodge, a military clerk with The Adjutant General's Corps, will go on to appear at Miss World 2008 if she wins the English title.

"I was delighted to have been selected for the Miss England final and it is a great honour," she added.

"Being a part-time model and a serving soldier is certainly a world apart. I want to use this competition to highlight the work that the Army are doing and what they have done for this country."

She is currently serving at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley and will take part in the Miss England national finals on Friday.

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