Leigh Ann Hester
|Leigh Ann Hester|
Hester visiting the U.S. Army Women's Museum, in February 2007.
12 January 1982 |
Bowling Green, Kentucky
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Years of service||2001–2009, 2010–present|
|Rank||Sergeant First Class|
|Unit||617th Military Police Company
269th Military Police Company
Army Commendation Medal
|Other work||Law enforcement officer|
Leigh Ann Hester (born 12 January 1982) 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 actions on 20 March 2005 during an enemy ambush on a supply convoy near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq. 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.
Hester's squad of two women and eight men in three Humvees were shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when approximately 50 insurgent fighters ambushed the convoy with AK-47 and RPK machine gun fire, and with 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 team through the kill zone and into a flanking position, where she and her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and M203 grenade launcher rounds. Hester and Nein assaulted and cleared two trenches. During the 25-minute firefight, Hester killed 3 insurgents.
When the battle was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one captured. Sergeants Hester and Nein were both awarded the Silver Star. Nein's was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.
Also awarded the Silver Star in this ambush was platoon combat medic Specialist Jason Mike, who took up and simultaneously fired an M4 carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun in defense of his comrades.
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. 
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.
Decorations and badges
|Army Commendation Medal|
|National Defense Service Medal|
|Armed Forces Reserve Medal|
|NCO Professional Development Ribbon|
|Army Service Ribbon|
|Combat Action Badge|
- "Hester". Women in the U.S. Army. United States Army. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "On the Cover" (PDF). VolState Guard. Tennessee National Guard. March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- Martin, Rachel (22 February 2011). "Silver Star Recipient A Reluctant Hero". NPR. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Kentucky Births, 1911–1999
- "50 Heroes for 50 States – U.S. Department of Defense Update". United States Department of Defense. Retrieved 2006-12-30.
- Sergeant Sara Wood. "Female Soldier receives Silver Star in Iraq". Department of Defense. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- Steve Fainaru (26 June 2005). "Silver Stars Affirm One Unit's Mettle". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- 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.