Friday, June 17, 2005

Heroes; The Long Green Line

AP Photo

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press Writer Thu Jun 16,11:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON - A 23-year-old sergeant with the Kentucky National Guard on Thursday became the first female soldier to receive the Silver Star — the nation's third-highest medal for valor — since World War II.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, who is from Nashville, Tenn., but serves in a Kentucky unit, received the award for gallantry during a March 20 insurgent ambush on a convoy in Iraq . Two men from her unit, the 617th Military Police Company of Richmond, Ky., also received the Silver Star for their roles in the same action.

According to military accounts of the firefight, insurgents attacked the convoy as it traveled south of Baghdad, launching their assault from trenches alongside the road using rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Hester and her unit moved through enemy fire to the trenches, attacking them with grenades before entering and clearing them.

She killed at least three insurgents with her M4 rifle, according to her award citation. In the entire battle, 26 or 27 insurgents were killed and several more were captured, according to various accounts. Several Americans were also wounded in the firefight.

Read the complete story here

The phrase "since World War II" got me thinking, and I came up with this:

Mary Louise Roberts
by Susan McMath Platt From the Old Red Museum

Mary Louise Roberts grew up in Texas, the eldest of six children. When she
was eighteen, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. Enrolled in a training
program, she quickly discovered her skills lay in surgery.

By 1941, when still in her 20s, she was chosen to be operating room supervisor
at Dallas’ Methodist Hospital. In the turmoil following the bombing of
Pearl Harbor, Mary volunteered for duty. Now Lt. Roberts , she became
operating room supervisor for the army’s 56 th Evacuation Unit out of Baylor.

By Easter of 1943, she was overseas in Casablanca. Lt. Roberts was assigned
to follow the 36 th ,88 th and 90 th infantry divisions of the Fifth Army.
For the young officer from Texas, the war was about to heat up. She and
her team of 50 nurses were shipped to Italy to set up a field hospital outside
of Anzio.

In one of the most brutal chapters of World War II, Allied forces withstood
weeks of attacks as the Germans fought to retake the beach.
During this time, Lt. Roberts earned her nickname the “Angel of Anzio.”
She was later quoted as saying, “You could say I was fearful but not scared.
There were so many soldiers depending on you.” They were fortunate to be in her care.

With the Army evacuation hospital taking a pounding from German shellfire,
surgeons ordered Roberts to take cover. She refused. Roberts and her nurses
were able to keep the hospital functioning, doing what they could to help “her boys.”

For bravery and service in battle, Lt. Mary Roberts was the first female in the
history of the United States to be awarded the Silver Star.

Lt. Roberts served two more years overseas before returning home to Dallas.
In 1946, she became the operating room supervisor at the local Veterans
Administration Hospital, a position she held for 25 years.

She died November 19, 2001, of a heart attack in Dallas at age 87.