Tuesday, May 02, 2006

American Hero: Leigh Ann Hester

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, a National Guard MP from Bowling Green, Ky., was the first woman to receive the Silver Star for heroism, the nation's third highest award for valor, since WWII. She was awarded the Silver Star for combat action outside Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004, when she rushed to the aid of a convoy that had just been attacked. The MP patrol she was leading was soon facing a superior force of about 40 insurgents, armed with RPG's and automatic weapons.

As they stopped their vehicles to assist the ambushed convoy, Sgt. Hester's squad was immediately overcome by fire. Sgt. Hester helped lead the counter-attack, firing her M203 grenade launcher and M4 carbine, and killing at least three of the terrorists. When the fight was over, nearly thirty insurgents were dead, and several more were wounded or taken prisoner. The American troops had suffered only three casualties, none of which proved life-threatening.

Sgt. Hester and two other members of her patrol received Silver Stars, while the remaining men were awarded Bronze Stars. Sgt. Hester's decoration was the first ever awarded to a female soldier fighting the enemy, but it probably won't be the last.

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