Ruby Bradley

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Ruby Bradley
Born (1898-12-19)December 19, 1898
Died May 28, 2002(2002-05-28) (aged 94)
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1934–1963
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit Nurse Corps
Battles/wars World War II

Colonel Ruby Bradley (December 19, 1907 – May 28, 2002) was one of the most decorated women in United States military history.[1] She was a native of Spencer, West Virginia but lived in Falls Church, Virginia, for over 50 years.

Military Career[edit]

Bradley entered the United States Army Nurse Corps as a surgical nurse in 1934. She was serving at Camp John Hay in the Philippines when she was captured by Japanese forces three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In 1943, she was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. It was there that she and several other imprisoned nurses earned the title "Angels in Fatigues" from fellow captives. For the next several months, she provided medical help to the prisoners and sought to feed starving children by shoving food into her pockets whenever she could, often going hungry herself. As she lost weight, she used the room in her uniform for smuggling surgical equipment into the prisoner-of-war camp. At the camp she assisted in 230 operations and helped to deliver 13 children.

When U.S. troops liberated the camp on February 3, 1945, Bradley weighed only 86 pounds (39 kg). She was then returned to the United States where she continued her career in the Army. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California in 1949.

Bradley served in the Korean War as Chief Nurse for the 171st Evacuation Hospital. In November 1950, during the Chinese counter-offensive, she refused to leave until she had loaded the sick and wounded onto a plane in Pyongyang while surrounded by 100,000 advancing Chinese soldiers. She was able to jump aboard the plane just as her ambulance exploded from an enemy shell. In 1951, she was named Chief Nurse for the Eighth Army, where she supervised over 500 Army nurses throughout Korea.

She was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1958 and retired from the Army in 1963.

Later Life[edit]

She was the subject of a February 23, 2000 NBC Nightly News report by Tom Brokaw about the forgotten heroes of the military.

She was also the recipient of a memorial resolution drafted by Congressman Joe Baca of California, regarding her exemplary service to this nation after her death in 2002.


Her military record included 34 decorations, medals and other awards. These included -


  • 2nd Lieutenant - 16 October 1934
  • 1st Lieutenant -
  • Captain - 16 October 1945
  • Captain (Regular Army) - 19 August 1947 (to rank from 19 December 1942)
  • Major - 15 May 1950
  • Lieutenant Colonel - 29 September 1951
  • Colonel - 4 March 1958