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History Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley

by Susan J. Myers

Tom Brokaw wrote about "The Greatest Generation", interviewing many WWII survivors. Unfortunately (for him), he missed a star.

Ruby Bradley has the distinction of being the most decorated woman of the US Army as well as the third woman to rise to the rank of Colonel. A statue to her sits on the lawn of the Roane County Court House in Spencer WV, her hometown. Although she died in May 2003, the city is hosting a tribute to her memory on December 19th- her 100th birthday.

Miss Ruby was one of six children raised on a farm. In 1926 she graduated from Spencer High School, Spencer WV, and later graduated Glenville State College, and was hired to teach grades 1-8 in a one-room school house. She taught many current residents to read and write. In 1930 she choose to go to Philadelphia to become a nurse. Then in 1934 she joined the Army Nurse Corps to begin a career that spanned WWII and Korea. After WWII she earned a BS in Nursing at the University of California. West Virginia University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1964.

On Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th) she was working at an Army hospital in the Philippines. When the Japanese took over the camp, she hid with two colleagues, but they were betrayed. They were now Prisoners of War and would remain so for 37 months. Here she became an "Angel in Fatigues." She assisted in 230 operations and helped to deliver thirteen babies. In 1957 Ruby was honored by Ralph Edwards on the famous '50's show "This Is Your Life" - she met one of those babies. Later, she was the mystery guest on "To Tell the Truth".

Throughout her career she earned 34 medals, including two Legion of Merit medals, two Bronze stars, the Philippine Liberation Medal, and the Florence Nightingale Medal. After she retired, she spent 17 years as a private duty nurse in Spencer.

From a Family Member

My name is Frances Grace Kendra (Tillery) McCreary. Col. Ruby G. Bradley was my Great, Great Aunt. My Mother is her namesake: Ruby Grace Bradley Kirby. Aunt Ruby’s sister, Sally (Bradley) Kirby was my great Grandmother. I was born in 1975 in Falls Church, VA. My Aunt Ruby lived in Falls Church for upwards of 50+ years. She was there when all of us were born; My Grandfather, Wayne Kirby, My mother, my Aunt, Joan Kirby, myself, and my younger brother Adrian Reid Bradley Tillery.

We lived on the Kirby family property in Falls Church that had been in the family since about 1700. There were two houses on our 10 acres, and one was my grandma Sally’s and one was my Aunt Ruby’s. That is where we all grew up, and Aunt Ruby was a daily part of all of our lives.

We have several documents about Ruby:

The 100th anniversary of Ruby's Birthday event in Spencer, WV, program.










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