Ranbir Kaur was the first Sikh woman to join the US armed forces in 2003. She went on a one-and-a-half-year mission to Afghanistan. She had joined the US National Guard at the age of 17.
She was born in Nijjran village of Jalandhar district, Punjab, the young fighter reached the US as a seven-year-old after her father Mahan Singh, pursuing the American dream, secured a green card in 1990.
She was brought up in an isolated town called Earlimart, in California, her brush with the uniform dates back to 2001 when she was a freshman (Grade IX) in high school at Delano, which was the closest city.
In 2003, the daughter of a Sikh grape grower faced the ire of white supremacists, who posted spam emails terming her recruitment as a means to seek citizenship. However she was already a US citizen, and the young girl set about proving her detractors wrong through hard training.
During the 2005 Katrina hurricane in New Orleans, the devout Sikh was instrumental in the recovery of the Guru Granth Sahib after the New Orleans gurudwara was submerged.
United Sikhs, an organisation, had sought her assistance and Ranbir got everybody moving after she announced that the living Guru of the Sikhs was under water. Amid random shootings, air force rescue experts David Cruz and Tom Bausmas rescued the Guru Granth Sahib in an operation that lasted 22 hours.After serving in Afganistan Ranbir was reassigned to Iraq were last year she was injured. She was returned to the States for a four week recovery period. She has returned to complete her tour of duty with her unit in Iraq.