You don’t mess with Tennessee.

Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester drove a humvee in a mounted column as it was ambushed by over 50 Iraqi insurgents. She stopped the vehicle and directed her gunner to return fire as bullets and RPGs rained down. Hester got out and fired M203 grenades into the enemy position, then attacked forward with her squad leader. They moved over the berm into the irrigation ditches of an orchard where the ambush originated. Hester worked with her squad leader to clear the ditches, personally eliminating 3 enemy at close quarters. Their assault into the teeth of the ambush disrupted the enemy’s momentum and played a key role in stopping the attack.

For her initiative and heroic actions, Hester was awarded the Silver Star. She became the first woman to receive the award since WWII. She continued her service in the National Guard, deploying to Afghanistan for 18 months, and to the Virgin Islands in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Maria. In civilian life, Hester serves as a police officer in her home state of Tennessee.

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