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Trench clearance in the 21st century

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester has been further honoured for her bravery and coolness under fire.

The United Service Organizations celebrated its 65th anniversary last night and honored troops from each branch of the military for heroism.

“We are thankful that we are defended by men and women of character and courage, and we are grateful to all the USO volunteers to work to entertain them,” President Bush said in a video message to the 65th annual USO gala here. “They lift their spirits and express the gratitude and support of the American people.” The five troops who received USO Servicemember of the Year awards at the gala represent the highest ideals of courage and patriotism, and have demonstrated extraordinary loyalty, bravery and heroism, Bush said.

I wrote about this back when it happened, but here are the details again:

Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, of the Kentucky National Guard. Hester served as a team leader with the 617th Military Police Company at Camp Liberty, Iraq. On March 20, 2005, Hester was in one of three escort vehicles providing security for a convoy when the convoy was ambushed by insurgents. Despite being outnumbered five to one and coming under heavy fire, Hester led her soldiers on a counterattack, maneuvering her team into a flanking position and clearing trenches occupied by the insurgents. Hester is the first woman since World War II to receive the Silver Star for combat action.

The events of that day would make a great war movie for the 21st Century if someone with real military cred decided to do it right. No ambiguous messages needed, just the good guys and gals blowing hell out of the enemy.

15 comments to Trench clearance in the 21st century

  • cryptononcommie

    Impressive, but I do have one question: what about the other four soldiers who were honoured? Is this person singled out for the article simply because she is a woman? That would be rather sexist… 🙂

  • Dale Amon

    Partly yes. It’s the man bytes dog thing. It is special news because it is something new to this era, women in combat. The time will come when it is no longer notable, and I am sure Leigh does not wish to be singled out either.

    There is also another side to it. The other stories, while of great heroism, were mostly of the form, “continued assisting others while grievously wounded”, “laid down covering fire and rescued wounded comrades from the field of battle”. Her story is more in the Sgt York tradition “rallied troops and attacked enemy trenches killing lots of enemy and winning the battle” albiet not as bloody.

  • cryptononcommie

    I don’t particularly agree with the “man bytes dog” idea; the news should be representative of events instead of hyping unrepresentative “man bytes dog” stories, otherwise the reader’s perception of reality becomes distorted, placing a disproportionate emphasis upon the “man bytes dog” perspective, instead of concerning him/herself with the less sensational, but far more pressing matter of “dog is biting men.”

    After all, if the media ignores all the “dog bytes man” stories, how are we to know if dogs are in fact biting men (personal experience, word of mouth?), or if dog-bites are actually a problem in today’s world (are they more of a problem this year than last?, do we have an epidemic on our hands? Should we be concerned? Should something be done about it? etc.). If the media refuses to report on “dog bytes man” (e.g. Muslims kill yet another innocent Buddhist infidel in southern Thailand, etc.), and I have to find out these matters through my own personal research, then the media isn’t doing its job of keeping it’s readers informed, now is it?

    Instead of informing the reader, the media is too busy reporting “man bytes dog” stories to grind whatever ideological axe it has. Of course, “man bytes dog” stories of extraordinary importance should always be reported, but not because of their “man bytes dog” nature, but rather because of their extraordinary importance.

    If history was recorded or taught from a “man bytes dog” perspective, our view and understanding of history would certainly be worse for it; the same principle applies to the present.

    You make a good point in the second paragraph, though. I concede. 🙂

  • RAB

    Ah that’s BITES dog y’all!
    We all love the internet like Perry said…
    But there is a limit!

  • Hester wasn’t awarded the Silver Star for being a woman in combat – she was awarded the medal for LEADING her team of 10 as they took out 27 insurgents that had just ambushed the convoy they were with. She wasn’t the only soldier decorated for the action

    The military awarded three Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars and two army commendation medals to the squad last week. Receiving the Silver Star, along with Hester and Nein, was a platoon medic, Spec. Jason Mike, a 5-foot-9, 250-pound former fullback at Jacksonville University in Florida.

    google is a wonderful thing cryptononcommie – gleaned that in less time than it probably took you to type “I have a question”

  • Jso

    I highly doubt even this man-bites-dog story will be reported very widely at all. Which is sad and unfortunate, the story is worth telling but it will be ignored by the MSM for appearing too pro-war and therefor “biased” (in the wrong direction).

  • Dale Amon

    Good catch on the byte. I was being a bit humorous 😉

    I do not disagree ‘man bites dog’ can get silly, but if you read the rest of my paragraph you would see I am not just talking about ‘oddness’ at the expense of news, but of a current ‘oddness’ representative of a real trend, one which will change perceptions and in the future no longer be news in an of itself.

    But all that aside, it really was the combat itself which has drawn me to this story all along. It is also proof our military trains all of its people properly and well, not just the male portion.

  • As a matter of fact Raven 43 was not with the convoy when the ambush went down, but trailing it to provide backup. Sgt. Hester led her patrol into the hot zone from safely outside of it.

  • Tia

    You know the jihadis are completely nuts when they mess with the Kentucky National Guard.

  • Midwesterner

    You got a point, Tia. Mountain people are not to be messed with.

    From next door Tennessee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_York

  • Nick M

    Ah, the volunteer state!

    I found Memphis a little scary myself.

    But the vista over the mighty Tennessee river you get at one point driving up from Atlanta to Chattanooga took my breath away.

    And they’ve got the best aquarium I’ve ever seen.

  • Yeah, Tia! You beat me to it. Kentuckians will kick your ass!!! Patriotic as all get-out, high rate of service to NG, Reserves, and military, grow up shooting, and that’s girls too.

    I don’t know if Leigh Ann was a hillbilly…but if we just had enough pissed off hillbillies deployed, this war would be going a lot better.

    I’m originally from Iowa, live in Kentucky now, and I appreciate the STEEP SACRIFICES that many families and communities in the red state flyover zone are making to support the GWOT. Many NG units are deployed that really depopulate rural towns and make it difficult to keep business going.

    *Hats off and big hugs*

    Thinking in a more politically cynical way, it’s an election year. This story is a favor to George Allen’s campaign as they emphasize Webb’s long failure to support women in the military and in combat. Amurricans who follow politics…do you get my drift here?

    Chicks packing heat…killing insurgents…leading troops…this will be a great movie.

  • Kim du Toit

    “No ambiguous messages needed, just the good guys and gals blowing hell out of the enemy.”


    I see you took a double dose of those naïvete pills… like Hollywood cares about a good-guy/bad-guy scenario, when there are only shades of good (except where the Utterly Eeeeevil Unisted States is concerned).

  • Kim du Toit

    …not to mention the fact that “the enemy” is George W. Bush.

  • One of the things that always amazes me about stories like this is when I read the ages of the people involved. Sgt Hester was 23 at the time of this action. When I think how callow I was at that age, it is sobering to think that there are people barely past adolescence who are capable of such acts. Not only that, but hers was a National Guard unit, not regular Army.