Paula Litch was born to serve her country, with both her father and her sister Cindy having served in the Army. “I respected both of them, and wanted to follow in their footsteps. It was important for me to do something greater with my life that would be meaningful.”
The Renton, Washington native joined the Oregon Army National Guard in January, 2000 and moved on to the Hawaii Army National Guard and California Army National Guard in 2001. In November, 2002, Litch was assigned to the Crisis Action Team at the Army Operations Center at the Pentagon, where she served until January, 2007. From the Pentagon, her career brought her to CENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, where she served until July 2007.
Following her time with CENTCOM, Litch accepted a new assignment in April, 2008. “I was deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne and assigned to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – NATO Headquarters in Kabul,” she reports. “My up-armored SUV was struck by the explosion from a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBID) while on a convoy security mission outside Kabul. The mission was to provide security for several Romanian soldiers who needed to get from ISAF HQ to Camp Warehouse to pick up one of their VIP’s and take them to Kabul International Airport. A young suicide bomber detonated his car bomb at close range as he attempted to ram our vehicle; we took evasive action and I fired my weapon at the driver. I bounced around the inside of the vehicle like some sort of pinball in a giant machine as the explosion rocked our vehicle.”
As a result of the explosion, Litch suffered several injuries. These include surgical repair of her left knee, traumatic brain injury with short term memory and vertigo issues, right elbow bone fragment, right foot nerve damage, PTSD, and bilateral hearing loss. She reports she walks assisted with crutches.
Litch has been highly honored for her service to her country. She received the NATO Medal, Afghanistan Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Joint Services Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Oregon Commendation Medal, and California Commendation Medal.
A current resident of Issaquah, Washington, Litch remains active in outdoor activities, including rock climbing, sailing, skiing, kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking, and photography.
“I want to show my daughters Nicole and Kelsey that you never give up in life no matter what happens,” Litch said of her participation in World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit at Snowbird in February, 2012. “Even though I am nervous on how hard this skiing event will be, I am so excited to get my life started again physically and enjoy a sport again that I thought would be forever lost to me due to my injuries.”