Leigh Ann Hester (born January 12, 1982) of the 617th Military Police Company, a National Guard unit out of Richmond, Kentucky, received the Silver Star for her actions on March 20, 2005 during an enemy ambush on a supply convoy near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq.
Hester was the first female soldier to receive the award for exceptional valor since World War II and the first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.
Hester's squad of two women and eight men in three Humvees was shadowing a 30-truck supply convoy when approximately 50 insurgent fighters ambushed the convoy with AK-47 assault rifle, RPK machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester maneuvered her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she and her squad leader, Staff Sergeant Timothy F. Nein, assaulted a trench line with hand grenades and M203 grenade launcher rounds. Hester and Nein assaulted and cleared two trenches. During the 25-minute firefight, Hester killed at least three enemy combatants with her M4 carbine.