Woman with local ties receives Bronze Star
BLACKFOOT — A woman with local ties was awarded the Bronze Star last year for her service as a logistical planner with the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division.
U.S. Army Maj. Karrie Patterson—who was raised in Idaho and whose grandparents are Margene and Charles Belnap of Blackfoot—was deployed to Basra, Iraq, last year for a one-year deployment where she earned the Bronze Star.
Patterson joined the Idaho National Guard in 1991, serving six years. She then returned to school, receiving a bachelor's degree in history from Boise State University. After receiving her degree, she went into the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer.
Throughout her career Patterson has been on five total deployments to Southeast Asia and the Middle East including Kosovo, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
A year ago, Patterson was deployed with the 1st Infantry Division to Basra, Iraq, where she served as a G5 logistical planner during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
"We were working on enabling a stable, self-reliant Iraq," Patterson said.
She worked directly under the guidance of Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, who Patterson said is a great communicator and mentor.
Patterson played an integral role in planning the drawdown of forces in Iraq by developing the transition line of effort for the 1st Division's campaign plan. She said she had to balance creating a stable, self-reliant Iraq with the need to move equipment and supplies from Iraq during the drawdown.
"It was kind of fortuitous for me because I got to work with some very intelligent people," she said. "It was really great that I had an opportunity to develop that plan."
Patterson's plan was successful and so well-executed that other units in Iraq have used the plan as part of Operation New Dawn.
On receiving the Bronze Star, Patterson said she is not a hero, but a very fortunate woman who was able to work with some very incredible people.
Patterson's family is rich with military history and inspired Patterson to join the Army. Her grandfather Lewis W. Patterson was a Navy pilot during World War II and her great-grandfather Charles W. Belnap was a member of the Army's original 1st Infantry Division during World War I. Her father Wes Patterson is a former high school history and government teacher.
"I always wanted to be in 'The Big Red 1' because my great-grandpa was," Patterson said. "I wanted to be a soldier and I wanted to be a soldier in the 1st Infantry Division."
Her grandfather, Charles K. Belnap, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and also greatly influenced her desire to serve her country.
"It was just really a neat thing to look up to him," Patterson said. "He was a huge motivator for me."
She credits her grandfather and her mother, Sharrie Reddish, with providing her with the strength to serve.
"Their love and their strength has kept me going," she said.