Leigh Ann Hester

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Leigh Ann Hester
Leigh Ann Hester February 3 2007 Cropped.jpg
Hester visiting the U.S. Army Women's Museum, in February 2007.
Born (1982-01-12) 12 January 1982 (age 35)
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Allegiance  United States of America

United States Army

Years of service 2001–2009, 2010–present[1][3]
Rank Sergeant First Class
Unit 617th Military Police Company[1]
269th Military Police Company[2]
Battles/wars Iraq War[1]
War in Afghanistan[4]
Awards Silver Star[1]
Army Commendation Medal
Other work Law enforcement officer[3]

Leigh Ann Hester (born 12 January 1982)[5] is a United States Army National Guard soldier. While assigned to the 617th Military Police Company, a Kentucky Army National Guard unit out of Richmond, Kentucky, Hester received the Silver Star for her heroic actions on 20 March 2005 during an enemy ambush on a supply convoy near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq.[6] Hester enlisted in the U.S. Army in April 2001 and is the first female U.S. Army soldier to receive the silver star since World War II and the first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.[7]


Hester waits to receive her Silver Star medal during a military awards ceremony at Camp Liberty, Iraq in June 2005.
Hester after receiving her Silver Star medal during a military awards ceremony at Camp Liberty, Iraq in June 2005.

Iraq War[edit]


Hester's military police squad consisting of eight men and two women in three Humvees were shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when approximately 50 insurgent fighters ambushed the convoy with AK-47, RPK machine gun fire, and rocket propelled grenades (RPG). The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester maneuvered her fire team through the kill zone and into a flanking position, where her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, and her, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and M203 grenade launcher rounds. Nein and Hester assaulted and cleared two trenches. During the 25-minute firefight, Hester killed 3 insurgents.[8]

When the battle was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one captured. Sergeants Nein and Hester were both awarded the Silver Star.[8] Nein's medal was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.[9]

Also awarded the Silver Star in this ambush was Specialist Jason Mike, a platoon medic who took up and simultaneously fired an M4 carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun in defense of his comrades.[8]

Later career[edit]

Hester later transferred to the Tennessee Army National Guard. From 2012 to 2014, she served as an instructor at the 117th Regional Training Institute Military Police School. In 2014, she deployed to Afghanistan for 18 months as a Cultural Support Team member. Hester has since been promoted to the rank of Sergeant First Class. [4]

Later work[edit]

Hester took a brief break from the U.S. Army in 2009, and worked as a civilian law enforcement officer in a Nashville, Tennessee suburb. However, she returned to the military a short while later, in late 2010.[3]

Military awards[edit]

Hester's decorations and awards include:

Silver Star
Army Commendation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
NCO Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Action Badge

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Hester". Women in the U.S. Army. United States Army. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "On the Cover" (PDF). VolState Guard. Tennessee National Guard. March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Martin, Rachel (22 February 2011). "Silver Star Recipient A Reluctant Hero". NPR. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Cowan, Jill (August 29, 2015). "Franklin Silver Star recipient talks women in military". The Tennessean. 
  5. ^ Kentucky Births, 1911–1999
  6. ^ "50 Heroes for 50 States – U.S. Department of Defense Update". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 
  7. ^ Sergeant Sara Wood. "Female Soldier receives Silver Star in Iraq". Department of Defense. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Steve Fainaru (26 June 2005). "Silver Stars Affirm One Unit's Mettle". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Doubler, Michael D. (2008). The National Guard and Reserve: A Reference Handbook. Contemporary Military, Strategic, and Security Issues. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 9780275993252. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 

External links[edit]