Pvt. Monica Brown And The Silver Star

<b>Lara Logan</b> Interviews A Young Woman Who Was Awarded A Silver Star For Exceptional Valor

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Private Monica Brown is only the second woman to be awarded the Silver Star since World War II. She's an Army medic who risked her own life to save two critically wounded paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan.

Under Army regulations, women cannot be assigned to frontline combat units. But, as correspondent Lara Logan reports, in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq today, that's exactly where they often end up.

Some male soldiers aren't so happy about that, including members of Pvt. Brown's own unit. But her superior officers say she is a hero - a hero who earned one of the military's highest awards for exceptional valor when she was only 18 years old.

Winning the Silver Star is a big deal for anybody, but considering Brown's age, it's an even bigger deal. "It's overwhelming," she tells Logan.

"I mean you've been treated like a superstar, really. And you're just a kid," Logan remarks.

"Yeah. I am just a child," she acknowledges.

It all started on April 25, 2007. Brown was temporarily attached to a paratrooper unit in Paktika Province, a hostile and remote area. The unit was headed back to base after searching for weapons in a village. None of them had any idea they were driving straight into a massive ambush until a roadside bomb exploded under the last Humvee and hidden enemy fighters unleashed mortars and machine guns on the convoy.

Brown had just four months of medic training at the time, and it was her first firefight. "They stopped the convoy. And my platoon sergeant got out of the truck and said, 'Doc, let's go,'" she remembers.

Brown was the only medic at the scene.

"There was a ball of fire that went into the truck and burned all five crew members. The gunner was actually almost blown out of the turret," remembers Michael Greene, who was Brown's sergeant major with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Asked what Brown did and what was so remarkable about her actions, Sgt. Maj. Greene tells Logan, "She grabbed her aid bag, got out of the truck and made her way back to the vehicle. And through small arms fire, intense small arms fire and mortar fire."

"As I'm runnin' I see guys rollin' in the dirt tryin' [to] put their uniforms out 'cause they're burnin'," remembers Sergeant Jose Santos, who was running with Brown towards the casualties through a hail of enemy bullets and mortar fire.

Sergeant Aaron Best, a gunner in the lead Humvee, was firing back at the enemy, while Specialist Jack Bodani, only lightly wounded, managed to crawl out of the burning Humvee.

"Thought I lost my entire crew; at that point in time I didn't see anybody," Spc. Bodani remembers.

Bodani knew that his best friend, Specialist Stanson Smith, was still trapped inside the burning vehicle that was packed with high explosive ammunition. "Couldn't get him out 'cause he was tryin' to crawl in the flames. And he's disoriented and got adrenaline pumpin'," Bodani remembers.

"And he's been hit at this point, right? His head is hit quite badly?" Logan asks.

"Blood all over his face and burned skin, and his lips were messed up," Bodani says.

"The truck is carryin' the MK19, which has 40 millimeter grenades. So you're talkin' about a thousand grenades inside that truck," Sgt. Santos explains.

Santos says they all started going off.

"It sounded like firecrackers, at first," Brown remembers. "And then, it was pretty heavy after that. 'Cause you could hear all the 50 cals (calibers) going off and stuff like that."

As the firefight raged on, Brown focused on the two most seriously wounded men - Specialists Larry Spray and Smith.

"I see Smith, he's laying there, you know, he's rockin' back and forth. And I'm, like, lookin'. Like, 'Oh crap.' You know, 'He's dead.' Spray, his hands are all burned up. And his face is burned up," Sgt. Best remembers.

"And in all of this, I mean, you were never scared? Not even for a moment?" Logan asks Brown.

"I wasn't scared for my life. I was scared because I was afraid I wasn't gonna be competent and able to do my job. Because I knew the people that were hurt," Brown says.

Asked if she was afraid of failing, Brown says, "Yeah."