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Face of Defense: Soldier Enjoys Helping Others

By Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn
Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, Sept. 4, 2009 – Before she joined the Army, Staff Sgt. Katherine Fults felt her career options were limited to three things, none of which indicate an obvious path to the military.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Staff Sgt. Katherine Fults, a flutist with the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division Band, rehearses at Contingency Operating Base Basra, Aug. 25, 2009. Fults teaches third grade at Ascension School in Minneapolis. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Frank Vaughn

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“To me, there were three things in life: teacher, nurse or nun,” said Fults, who is deployed here as a flutist with the Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division band.

The devout Catholic considered becoming a nun, but decided against it since she hoped to someday marry and have children. Ultimately, she decided to be a teacher.

“I used to play school all the time when I was a kid,” said Fults, a resident of Burnsville, Minn. “I went with teacher because that seemed to be where my interest was.”

Becoming a teacher wasn’t hard, Fults said. The schooling and training gave her a working knowledge of the theories and concepts of operating a classroom and educating children, and she handled that part pretty well.

“My first couple of years actually teaching, though, were pretty hard,” she said. “I went from theories to actual practice, which proved to be quite different things.”

Fults added in her religious interests by becoming a third-grade teacher at a Catholic school in Minneapolis. Her military career was more serendipitous.

“When I was going through college I was the oldest child in our family and money was scarce,” the 2000 graduate of University of North Dakota said. “The military was my ticket.”

An active band member all through high school, Fults decided playing the flute in the Army was the way to go, so she enlisted on active duty. She served four years in Kaiserslautern, Germany, before returning to the United States.

While she initially intended for her military service to just carry her through college, Fults has found a renewed purpose for wearing her uniform, and in being a noncommissioned officer.

“I love being an NCO,” she said, with a smile. “Even though I have a degree, I have no aspirations to leave the NCO Corps. The most important aspect of being an NCO, which I love, is taking care of people.”

Fults said she’s glad for the opportunity to do just that here in Iraq. “I am grateful for the experience,” she said. “I think you can look for positives and negatives in anything, so I try to look for positives.”

Fults said she has big plans when she returns from deployment. “I’m going to get in my car and travel the southwest United States with Peaches, my mixed-breed dog,” she said with a laugh.

(Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn serves in the Multinational Division South public affairs office.)

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