The Most Decorated Woman In US Military History Is From A Small Town In West Virginia

Colonel Ruby Bradley was born on December 19, 1907, in the small town of Spencer in Roane County. She received her education in a one-room schoolhouse. Ruby was a bright child who had a strong love for learning and helping others. In 1933 she became a nurse and in 1934 decided her talents would best be utilized in the Army Nurse Corps.

Bradley served as a combat nurse in North Korea. She served on the front lines in evacuation hospitals. She was dedicated to her patient’s care and was known to refuse to evacuate, even while surrounded by snipers until she was sure every patient had been loaded.

Three Weeks After The Attack On Pearl Harbor Col. Bradley Was Captured By The Enemy

She was working as a nurse in the Philippines when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Three weeks after the bombing she was captured and spent the next three years as a prisoner of war.

Bradley organized the other captive nurses at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, and they established a clinic to care for the other prisoners who were sick or wounded. While she was a prisoner, Bradley assisted in over 230 major surgeries and delivered 13 American babies. In 1945, US forces liberated the camp. At the time of her rescue, Bradley weighed only 86 pounds.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

When Col. Bradley Left Korea She Was Honored By Her Country

Bradley returned to the United States where she continued her career with the Army. When Colonel Bradley left Korea she did so being honored with a full-dress honor guard ceremony, the first woman to receive such a salute. She also won the Florence Nightingale Medal from the International Red Cross. In 1949 she received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of California.

Her final assignment was Director of Nursing Activities at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. She worked there from June 1961 until her retirement from the Army on April 1, 1963. After her retirement, she returned to her hometown where she worked as a supervisor for private-duty nursing service in Roane County, from 1963 to 1980. Ruby Bradley died on May 28, 2002, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


She Remains The Country’s Most Decorated Female Veteran

Colonel Bradley remains the nation’s most decorated female veteran. She earned and was honored with 34 medals and citations for bravery. Among her medals and citations were two Legion of Merit medals, two Bronze Stars, and a U.N. Korean Service Medal with seven battle stars.

Her hometown of Spencer honored her accomplishments in September of 1991. The town held Ruby Bradley Day and recognized her bravery with a parade and tributes. On February 23, 2000, Colonel Bradley was the subject of a report by Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News about forgotten heroes of the military. After her death, the town of Spencer honored her memory by naming a bridge after her.

 Shortly after her death, she was the recipient of a memorial resolution that was drafted by Congressman Joe Baca of California for her exemplary service to the nation.

Colonel Ruby Bradley will always be remembered for her kind heart and life saving military history. Her legacy lives on in the history books and in the hearts of lives of everyone who knew her.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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