The Day Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester Earned A Silver Star for Valor in Combat


Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester is a hero, and the first female soldier to be awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat. In the short film below, she describes the events of that day with clarity and simple humility. There is no braggadocio in her at all; she feels that she was just “doing her job.” It’s obvious that the interviewer is clueless about combat and her questions will drive you crazy, but Hester’s responses to the reporter’s questions are measured, clear headed, and direct.

Photo: YouTube /  MilitaryLioness

Photo: YouTube /

Hester enlisted in the Army in April of 2001, some 5 months before 9/11. In March of 2005, Hester was in Iraq in 2005 with her unit, the 617th Military Police Company, a Kentucky National Guard unit out of Richmond, Kentucky. It was there that Sgt. Hester would prove her metal as a good, well-trained soldier under the most difficult of combat conditions: an ambush. Her actions that day will make you proud. When combat came to her, she was prepared and responded to it with recognizable courage and skill.

Painting by James Dietz depicting the day Sgt. Hester describesPhoto: National Guard

Painting by James Dietz depicting Sgt. Hester’s squad during the ambush
Photo: National Guard

On March 20, 2005, her convoy entered an ambush. During the 30 minute firefight, she led her team through the kill zone to cut off the insurgents escape route by flanking the ambushers. She assaulted two trench lines with grenades from her M203 grenade-launcher. She and her squad leader, Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein continued to clear those two trenches until she killed three of the insurgents, which ended the firefight. Hester is a humble and understated, but her reticence to tell all helps show that she is a hero in the best sense of the word: her story is not about her, but about her fellow soldiers. She acted without hesitation and in the manner of not just any soldier under combat, but one of our best soldiers.

The Veterans Site sends its respect and thanks to Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester for serving this country with such courage and commitment. We are very proud of you. Hoorah, Soldier!

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Click “Next” to read about another hero, Cpl. Jennifer Marie Parcell, who was a Lioness.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.