221: Karolyn Smith, Army Veteran, Author of "Sophia The Bionic Cat"

Posted by Michael J. Penney on

Karolyn Smith, Army veteran and author of “Sophia The Bionic Cat” joins Mike for this episode of Cigars and Sea Stories. Karolyn is one crazy awesome chick. She went from being a professional athlete to enlisting in the Army at the age of 29. Her prior physical conditioning as a velodrome cyclist gave her an advantage in basic training and throughout her entry level training. She was selected for an advanced position in the military police working on the field side. During the early stages of Iraqi Freedom she was part of a mixed gender unit that patrolled all over the area of operations, primarily in remote areas. Her sea stories shed light on the unique combat experiences some women have. After leaving the Army she worked personal security details as a private contractor and for corporate high level executives before leaving to undergo surgery and work through post war injuries that were a result from actions down range. This led to a long convalescence and eventually a relationship with an unexpected set of companions, Sophia and her brother kitten. While creating a prosthetic for Sophia, she kept encountering children who wanted to learn the story of her cat. After repeating herself for the millionth time, Karolyn wrote the story down which blossomed into the book, “Sophia The Bionic Cat”. Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble coast to coast.

She’s got plenty of sea stories and an awesome background. Enjoy the show and read her bio below to learn more about Karolyn.  


Karolyn is born and raised in San Diego, California and enlisted in the US Army shortly after the events of 9/11. At the tender age of 29, and placing aside an athletic career, Karolyn would become a Military Police Officer and find herself deployed with the 127th Military Police Company (Germany) to Baghdad Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. In true form, Karolyn would accept the dangerous position as crew-served machine gunner, affixed atop a hmmwv and conducted more than 200 combat patrols in the second deadliest patrol sector of Iraq between 2004-2005. Having been engaged daily with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s), Mortar attacks and small-arms fire, Karolyn and her team would suffer unimaginable horrors and 13 IED’s during her yearlong combat tour, resulting in service connected spinal injuries as well as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI).

In 2014 after years of substandard VA treatment and saddled with VA scheduled opioid use for nearly 5 years, Karolyn would be accepted into UCLA’s Operation MEND, and receive a cutting edge spinal fusion that would change the course of her life. Karolyn often remarks, “UCLA saved my life with this new biotech fusion that allows me to tell my story of struggle, injury and triumph.”

Karolyn’s story doesn’t stop at UCLA; it actually begins anew there. Within the same year, Karolyn would adopt an amputee kitten, Sophia, and create the first ever 3D printed detachable prosthetic for a cat. After the story of her and Sophia went viral, Karolyn turned her journey into a children’s book, which is available on Amazon as well as on the shelves at your local Barnes and Noble. In 2017 Karolyn and Sophia, dubbed “Sophia the Bionic Cat”, Karolyn would be contacted by Jackson Galaxy from “My Cat from Hell” fame and they would partner up and create an episode on the Animal Planet about Karolyn and Sophia’s story.

In 2017 Karolyn became a full time Inspirational Speaker and President of her new 501©3, ‘3 Paws UP’ a non-profit that will provide Inspirational material like “Sophia the Bionic Cat” to children in Critical Care facilities like Children’s Hospital and Rady’s hospitals, at no cost to the family.

You can find Karolyn at speaking events here in San Diego as she will be the guest speaker at the San Diego Makers Faire in Balboa Park as well as BioCom’s Gala event also located in San Diego. Karolyn still resides in East, San Diego County where she is actively involved in her Veteran community and is currently writing the screenplay to “Sophia the Bionic Cat.”







Anyone who emails us via 3pawsup.com and pays $20 for the book ($5 shipping domestically) will have a personally autographed book shipped to them.

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