Leigh Ann Hester
According to United States military policy, Leigh Ann Hester
should not be in direct combat. The long debated issue of
whether women should have a front line role in battle is
often blurred in this assemetrical 360 degree battlefield that has
become our nation's newest World War.
Regardless of how one feels about a woman's participation on the
battlefield, Hester displayed fidelity and valor that trancends
gender, and when that small aspect of this story is removed, she
maintains a place in the hero roll call of Iraq. As with all
other professional soldiers in the military, when given the austere
conditions of battle, she was able to focus and hone her craft at
the highest levels.
Outside Salman Pak, Iraq on March 20, 2005, as a member of the
617th Military Police Company, an Army National Guard unit out of
Kentucky, Hester's squad was pulling security for a supply convoy
on a Main Supply Route when anti-Iraqi forces ambushed the
column. SGT Hester's squad leader, Staff Sergeant
Timothy Nein, hastily enveloped possible enemy egress routes.
When his squad flanked from the side of the road, insurgents were
cut off from any possible escape. At that point, SGT Leigh
Ann Hester brilliantly led her fire team through the "kill sac" and
into a doctrinaly sound position to engage and destroy fleeing
insurgents. When she personally led her team into a trench
line, she tossed fragmentation grenades and fired 40 mm M203 high
explosive rounds that quickly overwhelmed the enemy and allowed her
fire team to achieve and maintain fire superiority.
Hester and SSG Nein then cleared two other trenches, at that time
she engaged and destroyed three insurgents with her M4 rifle.
When the smoke cleared, her unit was responsible for 27 dead
insurgents, six wounded and one insurgent detainee. For these
actions, SGT Hester became the first female soldier to receive the
Silver Star (the third highest award for combat valor) since World
War Two. SSG Nein was also awarded a Silver Star.
Hester, 23, is another glowing example of the quality of warrior
this generation provides its nation throughout this Global War on
Terror. Her actions that day in March 2005 were directly
responsible for saving lives and represent the finest traditions of
the United States military.
Whether women should be in the front lines of combat is a moot
point when aggressed by this fantical Islamist enemy today in
Iraq. When bullets and rockets are slamming into peers and
subordinates, valor and selfless service are called upon. As
long as this nation has defenders of freedom like SGT Leigh Ann
Hester who can expertly excute their duties in such an overwhelming
manner, we realize more fully all the contributions that are needed
for victory in this fight against those who plot to destroy our
American way of life.
You can read more about Sgt. Hester here.