Tammy Duckworth walking on stage - Federal election Fair Use photoNot only is she one of the historic class of 2012 women elected to the US Congress this week. Not only is she the first Thai-American woman to be sent to Capitol Hill. Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran, a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lost both of her legs in combat.

The new Illinois congresswoman previously served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011, and as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs before that.

The impressive Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand, to an American father, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who traced his family’s roots in America back to before the Revolutionary War. Her mother, a native of Thailand, is of Chinese ancestry. Because of her father’s work with the United Nations and international companies, the family moved around Southeast Asia and she became fluent in Thai, Indonesian, and English.

The Democratic congresswoman credits Republican Senator Bob Dole for inspiring her to pursue public service while she recuperated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Dole dedicated his biography One Soldier’s Story in part to Duckworth.

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