An Army woman was awarded the Silver Star for valor for the first time since World War II and was the first woman ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat on June 16, 2005, in Iraq. The Military Technology Museum at InfoAge recently unveiled their latest exhibit honoring SGT Leigh Ann Hester who received the Silver Star, along with two other members of her unit, for her actions on March 20, 2005, while she was a member of the 617 Military Police (MP) Company (a National Guard unit out of Richmond, KY), 503 MP Battalion (Airborne) in Iraq. The convoy her three-vehicle MP squad was protecting was ambushed by insurgents when she and her fellow MPs sprang into action.
Her citation reads: “…SGT Hester stopped her vehicle, the middle vehicle at a flanking position enfilading the trench line and the orchard field where a dozen insurgents were engaging the squad and convoy. She then directed her gunner to focus fire in the trench line and orchard field. SGT Hester dismounted…She ordered her gunner to continue to fire on the orchard field as she and her driver engaged insurgents in the orchard field with small arms. SGT Hester began engaging insurgents with her M203 in order to suppress the heavy AIF fire. SGT Hester followed SSG Nein to the right side berm and threw two well-placed fragmentation grenades into the trench eliminating the AIF threat. SGT Hester and SSG Nein went over the berm and into the trench and began clearing the trench with their M4s. SGT Hester engaged and eliminated three AIF to her front with her M4. They then made their way to the front trench and cleared that as well. After clearing the front trench, a ceasefire was called and she began securing the ambush site….”
The exhibit features SGT Hester’s Humvee and has the story of “Raven 42 in the Palm Sunday Ambush” where SGT Hester and her fellow MPs killed 26 of the enemy and wounded six more. “Raven 42” was the call sign for the 2nd Squad, 4th Platoon of the 617th Military Police Company. SGT Hester was the Team Leader of “Raven 42 Bravo”; she was 23 years old at the time.
Stop by the Military Technology Museum at InfoAge to see the full story of SGT Hester and the ambush as well as its many other fascinating exhibits and military equipment. InfoAge is located at 2201 Marconi Rd, Wall, NJ is open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 pm.