AWARDED. LEIGH ANN HESTER, 23, sergeant in the Kentucky National Guard; the Silver Star, making her the first woman to receive the honor since World War II; for her role in deterring insurgents and saving the lives of fellow soldiers during an ambush on a convoy in Iraq last March; in Washington. Hester, who received the award along with two men from her unit, plodded through enemy fire, killing at least three in an effort that resulted in the death of 26 or 27 insurgents and the capture of several more. "We're all soldiers, and we're all equal," she said.
CONVICTED. DENNIS KOZLOWSKI, 58, former CEO of Tyco International, and MARK SWARTZ, 44, the company's longtime chief financial officer; of stealing more than $500 million in cash and stock sales from the global manufacturing behemoth they built; after a four-month second trial (the first was declared a mistrial last year); in New York City. The jury found both men guilty of charges that include grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records. Each faces up to 30 years in prison.
HIRED. PHILIP COONEY, 45, former oil-industry lobbyist who, as a White House environmental adviser, came under fire from environmentalists when it was revealed that he had edited government scientific reports on global warming to downplay ecological threats; by ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, days after he resigned from the Administration.
DIED. VERNE MEISNER, 66, Wisconsin's polka king, known for his melodic Slovenian, or Cleveland-style, sound; of melanoma; in Milwaukee. In the Badger State, where polka is the official dance, Meisner started performing at age 11, gaining fans at taverns and festivals with a boost from a local disc jockey, Fritz the Plumber. Meisner recorded dozens of albums and wrote 60 songs, including the hit Memories of Vienna.
DIED. LANE SMITH, 69, character actor whose work included stage, film and TV performances (including the original Broadway production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross) but who won his greatest fame late in his career for his exacting, critically hailed portrayal of Richard Nixon in the 1989 docudrama The Final Days; of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease; in Los Angeles.
DIED. LORNA THAYER, 85, actress immortalized by her role as an intractable waitress in the 1970 Jack Nicholson film Five Easy Pieces; in Woodland Hills, Calif. In the movie, her unyielding "No substitutions" to Nicholson's request for toast with his lunch order prompts a prickly exchange that culminates with her disgusted "You want me to hold the chicken, huh?" and a Nicholson retort that has made the scene a fixture of Hollywood highlight reels.
DIED. DAVID DIAMOND, 89, brilliant, prolific, notoriously cranky American composer of 11 symphonies, 10 string quartets and numerous concertos, ballets and film scores; of congestive heart failure; in Rochester, N.Y. With his elegant, rhythmically dense pieces and his open disdain for more popular, experimental styles ("I hated all that avant-garde stuff!"), his work was alternately exalted, by such fans as Leonard Bernstein and George Szell, and neglected over a seven-decade career.