|Yeah, that's a silver star.|
You got one of those?
I didn't think so...
Let me introduce you to Leigh Ann Hester. You've never heard of her, because our wars are illegal, pointless attacks on weak countries, and pride in our warriors is limited to jingoistic hate peddlers. But where a war against a weak opponent has a foregone conclusion, any given small-unit battle within that war can go massively pear-shaped no matter how much firepower and combat power a modern, wealthy, technologically advanced army can bring to bear. And when it all comes down to the bloody work of killing at eyeball range, fighting for a meter or two of ground, and trying to keep your fellow soldiers from getting overrun and dying hard, you'd be surprised - though you shouldn't be - by who can win the day.
It's March of 2005 and a thirty truck supply convoy is on the road outside of Salman Park, Iraq. The escort is Raven 42, a ten man squad in three Humvees, except two of the men are women, and one of them is the formidable Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester of the Kentucky Army National Guard, 617th Military Police Company. As the convoy is passing through some orchards, it is ambushed by at least 50 Iraqis. They've arranged parked cars to keep the trucks from turning away, and they open fire from the irrigation ditches with machine guns and RPGs.
Sgt. Hester immediately realized that they couldn't pull back, and if they tried to fight from where they were they'd be shot to pieces. So she unhesitatingly led the team straight through the ambush kill zone, the last thing the Iraqis would have expected. As she cleared the kill zone, she curled into a flanking position and assaulted the trenchline with her M203 grenade launcher, driving back the attackers. But she wasn't done. Alongside the squad leader, Sgt. Tim Nein, she jumped into the trench and cleared it, killing at least three Iraqi soldiers at eyeball range. In the course of the 25 minute firefight, she assaulted and cleared a second trench, driving the Iraqis back away from the convoy. In the end, 27 Iraqis were dead and 6 were wounded. As a result of the speed and ferocity of the American's counter-ambush assault, only 3 US troops were wounded.
Hester and Nein were both awarded the Silver Star for their actions on March 5th, along with their Platoon Medic Jason Mike, who notably (I think he might have seen too many Schwarzenegger movies) fired an M4 carbine and a SAW light machine gun simultaneously, laying down a deadly base of fire for the assault on the trench.
There can be no doubt that women, just like men, when sufficiently trained and motivated, can serve successfully and even brilliantly in combat. It's not something everybody can do, or do well, but the traits and characteristics that make up a warrior are not so simple to identify as stature or gender. People will become what is in their hearts to be.