Monica Lin Brown Receives the Silver Star
On April 25, 2007, Brown was the medic on a mission to hunt members of a bombmaking cell. The patrol had finished its work and was returning to its base, with platoon commander Lt. Martin Robbins in the lead Humvee. The last of the five trucks had just eased down a dip in the rough road when one of its rear wheels triggered an improvised bomb, shredding the back of the truck.
Insurgents then began firing assault rifles and machine guns, and soon a mortar team arrived.
Brown and her platoon sergeant dashed back to the burning truck, where all five soldiers who had been inside were wounded.
Brown and the soldiers who were least injured helped the others move away from the flames, down into a shallow stream bed for cover. But the flames began to detonate mortar shells and bullets in the truck, and the soldiers were quickly caught in a crossfire of automatic weapons fire from insurgents and blasts from the truck, Robbins said.
This was the first of two points in the firefight where Brown lay across wounded men to shield them.
Robbins had been so far ahead when the attack started he didn't hear the explosion but turned around when his Humvee came under fire.
The shooting went on more than half an hour, and the wounded soldiers had to be moved twice to safer locations. By the time the fight was over, Brown had used up all the supplies in her aid bag. All five of the wounded men were later evacuated by helicopter.
Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said regulations prevent women from permanent assignments to front-line combat units such as Robbins' but that temporary assignments like Brown's are allowed.
Robbins said there was no question in his mind or that of anyone else there that day that Brown deserved the medal. He put in the paperwork for it, though the process took several months.
The Army let her brother Justin come to the medal ceremony, but she had one wish the Army couldn't grant, which was to bring the soldiers from Robbins' platoon to the ceremony too. They were in transit home.
"They looked out for me," she said. "I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for them."
By Jay Price | McClatchy/Tribune Newspapers May 9, 2008
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