Jessica Landeros holds a special place in U.S. military history. In 2004, she became the first woman in combat in Iraq during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Thanks in part to pioneers like Landeros, women will be allowed the opportunity to fight on the front line in all wars as of 2016, Fox News Latino reported.
After the 9/11 attacks, a 19-year-old Landeros joined the U.S. Navy. She started out as a plumber and convoy machine gunner in a construction battalion whose main objective was building bases and infrastructure, and went on to three tours of duty.
However, it wasn’t until the summer of 2006 that the reality of war hit too close to home. Tasked with leading nighttime security escorts for supply vehicles and personnel, her team was stationed in the especially dangerous Al Anbar province. During a mission one day, an explosion went off just feet away from Landeros’ vehicle.
“I saw bodies writhing in the sand like fish out of water; two teammates had been hit,” she recalled. “But I quickly snapped back to reality and forced myself to look away from my fallen colleagues and remember my mission: provide security for the road workers and now for the wounded and the medics who were moving them to safety.”
Landeros took control, saying, “I did what any smart woman would do: I appealed to [her fellow servicemens’] machismo.” She reminded her teammates that it was their responsibility to keep themselves calm and in control for the sake of the terrified road workers.
Through her leadership, her team made it safely back to Fallujah, thanks to “the ability, despite societal and historical barriers, to articulate the mission and instill in others the passion to get the job done,” the report said.