Although she has never attended a race, one long-time NASCAR fan and Williamson County hero may soon have a race named in her honor.
Leigh Ann Hester, 34, is one of five military veteran finalists who have been nominated to have their name placed on the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard race scheduled for July 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Voting is taking place at yourherosnamehere.nascar.com.
Hester, a https://hendersonvilleonline.com0-year Franklin Police Department veteran and active Army National Guard Sgt. https://hendersonvilleonline.comst Class, was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq.
While in Iraq, Hester was ambushed by insurgents and led her squad to safety. For these actions, Hester was awarded the Silver Star, an honor that had not bestowed on a woman for combat action since World War II.
In a video on the website, Hester tells her story as a team leader in a military police squad in Iraq.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday. … I can hear bullets whizzing by,” Hester recalled of the time her squad was attacked on March 20, 2005. “I can hear rounds pinging off the back of the truck right behind me within a couple of feet.”
She and another sergeant had to get into a trenchline and take out the insurgents who were firing at the squad, she said.
Franklin police officers appear in the video and speak of Hester’s humility and dedication to her community.
“Leigh Ann is a true leader,” said Herman Gomez, a detective at the Franklin Police Department. “She has the spirit of a warrior, given her past military experience and the experiences and behavior she has displayed here at the police department and especially being on the SWAT team.”
Hester said being a police officer is a childhood dream, and that the most rewarding part of her job is being able to help people.
“Each of the nominees is so deserving, and I’m truly honored to be amongst them,” she said in a comment provided to The Tennessean. “The possibility of having a race named after me is a little surreal.”
Hester was nominated by country music singer Justin Moore.
Voting is allowed once per day until June 9.
Reporter Jordan Buie can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jordanbuie.