Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester

Leigh Ann is the first woman to be credited for “Valor in close-quarters combat,” while being awarded the revered Silver Star Award. The Silver Star is the third most prestigious US military service medal awarded. Leigh Ann is also the first woman to be the recipient of the award since WWII.

A native of Kentucky, she joined the National Guard in 2001, and was sent to Iraq to serve in the capacity as a sergeant. In March of 2005, her convoy was caught in an insurgent ambush near Bagdad. She courageously and deftly maneuvered her ten man squad, and alongside her squad leader, Sergeant Timothy Nein, she successfully and strategically attacked the enemy at the trench line. The fight was long, dangerous and deadly; culminating in the killing of twenty-seven Iraqi insurgents. Sergeant Nein was also awarded the Silver Star.