December 19, 1907: Colonel Ruby Bradley Born

Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley was born near Spencer on December 19, 1907. As a member of the Army Nurse Corps, she would become one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history.

Bradley’s ordeal also is one of the most incredible stories of World War II. Just hours after attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan bombed American defenses in the Philippines, where Bradley was stationed as an Army nurse.

About three weeks later, she was captured and imprisoned in an internment camp in Manila. Conditions in the camp were brutal and kept deteriorating as the war dragged on.

But Bradley and her fellow nurses cared for the sick and taught good hygiene to the prisoners. She also helped with 230 surgeries and delivered 13 babies. When the camp was liberated in February 1945, Bradley’s weight had dropped to only 86 pounds.

She went on to serve as chief nurse of the Eighth Army during the Korean War and retired as a full colonel in 1963. During her career, she received 34 medals and citations of bravery, including two Legion of Merit medals and two Bronze Stars.