Army Specialist Laura Naylor, a Wisconsin native, spent a year in Baghdad with the 32nd Military Police Company in 2003 and 2004. During that time, she—like all of the more than quarter-million women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—was officially banned from ground combat.
That technicality didn’t slow down Naylor when an IED hit her convoy and it began to take fire from a nearby building. “We had to search this house nearby, thinking they were the ones doing the shooting, and I was the lead person the whole way. I had a flashlight in one hand, a pistol in the other, and I’d kick the door open with my foot, look both ways, give the all clear, go to the next room, do the same thing,” she recounted to me a few years later. “We were interchangeable with the infantry.”