Bolton grad, former cheerleader, headed for combat zone overseas

Her choice to serve in the military follows a family tradition, she said.

Her father served in the Army for three years during the 1980s - in Texas and Germany - and her grandfather Lyle French of Diamond Point faced combat in World War II. He was among the soldiers in the second wave of the Battle of Normandy, Kaila said.

"I know my serving overseas makes my grand-dad proud," she said, referring to Lyle, who was a police officer in Bolton for 17 years. "I'm the first female to go from our family, and it's a big step."

Kaila French said she wasn't particularly worried about the hazards of combat in Iraq.

"It's my job," she said. "It's what I chose to do."

She added that she was intrigued to learn about foreign traditions and lifestyles in Iraq.

"It may take a few weeks to get used to all the sand and the heat," she said. "However, I'm looking forward to learning about a different culture and seeing how other people live."

But Kaila's father said Monday he had mixed feelings concerning her going into combat. He's proud of her courage, of course, but he has reservations, he said Monday.

"I guess I'm a little afraid, but she's doing what she wants to do - she's talked about this since she was 13."

Regardless of his reservations, Lyle said he was behind her decision 100 percent.

"My wife and I are extremely proud of Kaila, and it's great that everyone in town says they're proud too," he said. "Kaila has a good head on her shoulders, and she will do fine - everything she's ever attempted she's succeeded at."

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