A 19-year-old Texas woman is the first woman in the Battle of Afghanistan to earn the Silver Star and only the second woman since World War II to earn the nation’s third-highest medal for valor.
The only other female to earn the Silver Star since World War II was Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of Nashville Tennessee who received the award in 2005 for gallantry during an insurgent ambush on a convoy in Iraq. Prior to that four Army nurses were the first and only women to receive the medal. Just last year three women who served as nurses in World War I were given the medal posthumously.
Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said.
After the explosion, which wounded five soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, the military said.
“I did not really think about anything except for getting the guys to a safer location and getting them taken care of and getting them out of there,” Brown told The Associated Press on Saturday at a U.S. base in the eastern province of Khost.
Brown, of Lake Jackson, Texas, is scheduled to receive the Silver Star later this month. She was part of a four-vehicle convoy patrolling near Jani Kheil in the eastern province of Paktia on April 25, 2007, when a bomb struck one of the Humvees.
“We stopped the convoy. I opened up my door and grabbed my aid bag,” Brown said.
She started running toward the burning vehicle as insurgents opened fire. All five wounded soldiers had scrambled out.
“I assessed the patients to see how bad they were. We tried to move them to a safer location because we were still receiving incoming fire,” Brown said.
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Brown, of the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, said ammunition going off inside the burning Humvee was sending shrapnel in all directions. She said they were sitting in a dangerous spot.
“So we dragged them for 100 or 200 meters, got them away from the Humvee a little bit,” she said. “I was in a kind of a robot-mode, did not think about much but getting the guys taken care of.”
For Brown, who knew all five wounded soldiers, it became a race to get them all to a safer location. Eventually, they moved the wounded some 500 yards away and treated them on site before putting them on a helicopter for evacuation.
“I did not really have time to be scared,” Brown said. “Running back to the vehicle, I was nervous (since) I did not know how badly the guys were injured. That was scary.”
The military said Brown’s “bravery, unselfish actions and medical aid rendered under fire saved the lives of her comrades and represents the finest traditions of heroism in combat.”