Assumption of Command

17 June 2005

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester Earns Silver Star

There was a pretty neat ceremony here in Iraq yesterday. A few National Guardsmen were awarded the Silver Star, The third highest award in the Army.

This is always a neat thing, what is different about this one is that for the first time since WWII a female has earned that honor.

Woman Soldier Receives Silver Star for Valor in Iraq:
Hester's squad was shadowing a supply convoy March 20 when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester led her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle.
HOOAH! That is Awesome.

While I am not trying to discount her award, I am glad she is one of the good guys, but I do not like to pay attention to "the First Female soldier to do this..." or "the First African American to do that" and it is not because I am sexist or racist it is because I don't like to distinguish people in that manner. And that is why I respect SGT Hester's comments
"I'm honored to even be considered, much less awarded, the medal," she said.

Being the first woman soldier since World War II to receive the medal is significant to Hester. But, she said, she doesn't dwell on the fact. "It really doesn't have anything to do with being a female," she said. "It's about the duties I performed that day as a soldier."
We are all in this together. One team, One Fight! Men & Women. Black, White, Hispanic. We all wear the same uniform. It doesn’t matter to me. I don't want to call SGT Hestor a "Good Female Sergeant" she would rather just be called a Good Sergeant. I will not separate her in my mind from other good NCOs by calling her a "Female Sergeant".

The quicker everybody figures that out, the better off all of us will be.

SGT Hester deserves the same respect that all soldiers who have earned the Silver Star for Valor deserves.

Well done Sergeant! You have made your brother and sisters in arms proud.

Update: John, ARGGGHHH!, Has a great post with pictures.

And links to this piece describing the action and a good reminder of other Famous Fighting Kentuckians:
It was a textbook response to ambush. Soldiers bolting from their vehicles, hitting the earthen berm on the "bad side" of the highway, and blasting away at guerrillas who were attacking a convoy of some 30 civilian tractor-trailer trucks.

The natural – and usually fatal – reaction would be to hit the deck or run in the opposite direction. The infantry-school drill would be to counterattack in the direction of the ambush and attempt to gain fire superiority. Sounds frightening, but the latter almost always saves lives among the ranks of those being ambushed.