Leigh Ann is one of the few women to be awarded for valor in close-quarters combat. When she and her squad came under fire by enemy combatants while stationed in Iraq, Hester helped repel more than two dozen Iraqi insurgents.
Her citation states that she "maneuvered her team through the kill zone into a flanking position where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 rounds. She then cleared two trenches with her squad leader where she engaged and eliminated three AIF [anti-Iraqi forces] with her M4 rifle. Her actions saved the lives of numerous convoy members."
Because of her swift heroism she is the first woman since World War II to earn the Silver Star Medal, the third highest award exclusively for valor in combat. She was also awarded the Bronze Star for bravery.