Saturday, June 18, 2005
  You Go, Girl!
For the first time since World War II, a female soldier has been awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry.

SGT Hester

SGT Leigh Ann Hester, SSGT Timothy Nein and SPC Jason Mike received the Silver Star for their actions during an enemy ambush on their convoy. Their squad was following a supply convoy March 20 when terrorist fighters ambushed the it. After the squad cut off the terrorists escape route, Hester led her team into a flanking position, assaulting a trench line with grenades. She and Nein, the squad leader, then cleared two trenches. Hester killed three terrorists during the action. When the firefight was over, 27 terrosists were dead, six wounded, and one captured.

"I'm honored to even be considered, much less awarded, the medal," SGT Hester said. "It really doesn't have anything to do with being a female. It's about the duties I performed that day as a soldier." She said she didn't have time to be scared when the fight started, and she didn't realize the impact of what had happened until much later. "Your training kicks in and the soldier kicks in. It's your life or theirs. ... You've got a job to do -- protecting yourself and your fellow comrades."

Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, Multinational Corps Iraq commanding general presented the medals at Camp Liberty, Iraq. "My heroes don't play in the NBA and don't play in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst," Vines said. "They're standing in front of me today. These are American heroes."
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Retired from the US Air Force after more than 20 years of service. Now working as a contractor for various government agencies.

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