August 14, 2009

Exhibit Honors Pageant Queens in Combat Boots

An Arlington resident is among several women being celebrated in a new exhibit at the U.S. Army Women's Museum in Fort Lee, Va.

"Kevlar and Crowns" profiles American soldiers who have the distinction of holding pageant titles during their military service.

Exhibit Honors Pageant Queens in Combat Boots

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Maj. Jeannie Deakyne is currently an assistant professor of Military Science at The University of Texas at Arlington. She was deployed twice to Iraq with the First Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.

She won the title of Mrs. Texas International 2005, and Mrs. U.S. Beauties 2008 and was a national spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation of America during her reigns.

"It's a unique perspective (to) see the boots and the shoes and the crowns and the Kevlar," Deakyne said. "And at first, it's sort of confusing to the eye, because you don't think of a beauty pageant existing in the context of the Army."

The seven women featured in the exhibit have, between them, a Purple Heart, four combat action badges, a combat medic badge, 13 college degrees, six bronze stars and eleven Meritorious Service Medals.

The women come from ethnically diverse backgrounds, all age ranges, and all ranks. Some have multiple deployments, with combat action. And they are all beauty queens.

"It shows, especially to my students and to prospective students, that there isn't necessarily a cookie-cutter image of who can be in the Army," Deakyne said. "You just bring your talents with you and you do the best that you can with them inside the Army."

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