Able Seaman Kate Nesbitt, Royal Navy: Nesbitt was awarded the Military Cross for her heroism under fire with 3 Commando in Afghanistan. The MC is the British equivalent of the Silver Star and she is only the second woman to ever be awarded it.
She dressed L/Cpl John Listâ€™s neck wound and kept him from losing blood while bullets and rockets flew overhead in Marjah district in Helmand.
Earlier this month, L/Cpl List said no words could describe what Ms Nesbitt had done, but without her action he would not have lived.
Her citation said: â€œUnder fire and under pressure her commitment and courage were inspirational and made the difference between life and death.
â€œShe performed in the highest traditions of her service.â€
Kimberly Munley, Ft. Hood Police Department: Munley was one of two police officers who responded to a terrorist attack at Ft. Hood. She engaged the terrorist and was badly wounded in the engagement.
The task on Thursday fell to the petite Ms. Munley, a civilian police officer employed by the Army at Fort Hood. Munley had taken part in intensive active-shooter training during the past year.
One of the first responders, she exited her car and entered the building as shots rang out. She rounded a corner, identified the shooter, and fired four times. He returned fire and hit her at least twice in the legs and once in the arm.
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Rebekah Montgomery, Chaplain of the Year award from the Military Chaplains Association:
After an 18-month tour in Afghanistan, Montgomery returned to Maryland and took on two jobs. One weekend a month, she is the brigade chaplain for the 58th Troop Command, a job that she said keeps her grounded in the â€œM-dayâ€ unit mentality. An M-day unit one in which troops serve one weekend a month and a two-week annual tour each year.
â€œWith my state, thatâ€™s where the real nuts-and-bolts mission is,â€ she said. â€œI feel like Iâ€™m staying in touch and serving at the local level.â€
During the week, she focuses on a broader mission at the readiness center, advising high-level officials on spiritual issues.
Spc. Heather Lemanski, New York National Guard: Fought off a rapist in the shower and held him until help arrived.
Upon entering the shower, Lemanski heard someone come into the trailer after her.
â€œI didnâ€™t hear another shower start, so I called out to see if anyone was in there,â€ she said. â€œNo one answered.â€
With a knife in one hand and a can of pepper spray in the other, Lemanski began checking each shower. Soon she found herself face-to-face with a male Soldier, dressed in his army combat uniform, crouched in another stall.
â€œI managed to restrain him, and I called out to a sergeant passing by to notify the [military police],â€ she said.
Sergeant First Class Helen Gillespie, WAC and tuba player: Helen is a new found friend this year. She told us her story, joining the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to play in the band, and then making the transition to the “new” Army.
From early 1971 until my recent decision to retire Iâ€™ve strived to be a valuable part of what I consider the strongest military organization in the world, the US Army. Running into and breaking through brick walls of limited opportunity for women has soured my view of the US Army. However, the benefit I received over the years has strengthened my belief that the Army offers great opportunity and growth to anyone who has the ability and strength to embrace it.
Megan Schlotthauer and her mother Lisa Altoon: This cheerleader needed a change and the Army offered her that change. Mom wasn’t sure, but before it was all settled, Mom had enlisted, too.
She presented the idea to her mother, Lisa Altoon, who wasnâ€™t receptive to the notion of her cheerleader daughter joining the Army.
â€œI was dead set against it from the beginning,â€ she said.
Altoon, like many parents, was concerned about the possibility of Megan deploying to a combat zone. That is, until she met her daughterâ€™s recruiter, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Dean of the Fremont, Calif., recruiting station. Dean proved to be a persuasive recruiter.
Jaeda Sichel, honorary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer: Jada inspired us in 2009 by being unwilling to let her illness determine her life’s boundaries. In early July, we covered Jaeda as she was given the basics of being a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala. Jaeda’s diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis didn’t slow her down at all and we posted a number of photos of her training. She is attending the University of Colorado at Boulder and is majoring in Aerospace Engineering.
Lance Corporal Sally Clarke, 2nd Battalion the Rifles: The second Brit to appear in this year’s list, Clarke rendered aid to her fellow soldiers under intense enemy fire.
L/Cpl Clarke applied field dressings and a tourniquet, and then waited for the emergency response team to arrive. The medic, who has served in the forces for three years, treated each soldier before helping to move them to the helicopter landing site so that they could be flown to Camp Bastion.
Despite being entitled to get on the flight she refused, insisting she would not leave the rest of the patrol without a medic. She said: â€œI didnâ€™t feel like my injuries were bad enough to go back to the hospital, particularly as I was the only medic on the ground at the time.
â€œI couldnâ€™t leave them on their own â€“ I came out here to support the troops on the ground and give them medical care when they need it the most.â€
Spc. Amanda Cleveland, Task Force Keystone: Still a teenager, this soldier is a teacher and a medic.
Cleveland is humble about her teaching ability, but is quick to acknowledge the importance of the subject matter.â€I really enjoy teaching, but itâ€™s not always easy keeping a studentâ€™s attention, because Iâ€™m not a dominating person,â€ said Cleveland. â€œI just keep reminding myself that what I am teaching these Soldiers will not only affect them, but also the people they may have to save. I may be helping my students save a life!â€
Cleveland is the primary instructor of the 28th CABâ€™s First Aid Refresher Course at Contingency Operating Base Adder which is taught monthly to a rotation of Soldiers. When she is not training, she is receiving clinical experience in her unitâ€™s medical clinic. She takes vital signs, screens patients, performs asthma treatments and even stitches sutures.
Maj. Gina Sabric, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, and the Women Air Force Service Pilots:
Itâ€™s been more than 60 years since the Women Air Force Service Pilots or WASP took the skies by storm as the first women in U.S. history trained to fly American military aircraft, overcoming inequality and changing the face of aviation forever. On July 1, these aviation pioneers were recognized by President Barack Obama, who presented the Congressional Gold Medal as long-overdue recognition of the historical â€œFly Girls.â€
Here at JBB, a 21st-century â€œFly Girl,â€ Maj. Gina Sabric, an F-16 fighter pilot, couldnâ€™t be more pleased with the recognition.
â€œI think it is amazing that they were presented [with the Congressional Gold Medal],â€ said Sabric, currently deployed here as the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing flight safety officer from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. â€œIt is definitely well-deserved and probably a little overdue, but it is amazing that they are finally being recognized for their service to our country.
â€œThey are definitely pioneers in aviation and an inspiration to those of us that fly now,â€ she continued. â€œWe would not be here if it wasnâ€™t for the work that they did before us. They paved the way and opened up doors for the rest of us.â€
Table of contents for 2009 Year in Review
- Ten women who inspired us in 2009
- 10 men who inspired us in 2009