BRUSSELS (AP) — A Belgian nurse who saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge at the end of World War II was given a U.S. award for valor Monday — 67 years late.
Congolese-born Augusta Chiwy, now 93, received the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service medal from U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman at a ceremony in the military museum in Brussels.
"She helped, she helped, and she helped," Gutman said at the ceremony. He said the long delay in presenting the award was because it was assumed that Chiwy had been killed when a bomb destroyed her hospital.
The Battle of the Bulge was a ferocious encounter in the final stages of World War II. In desperation, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack on allied forces in the Ardennes, in southern Belgium. More than 80,000 American soldiers were killed, captured or wounded.
Chiwy had volunteered to assist in an aid station in the town of Bastogne, where wounded and dying U.S. soldiers in their thousands were being treated by a single doctor in December 1944 and January 1945. Chiwy braved the gunfire, helping whoever she could, and saving the lives of hundreds of American GIs.
The Nazis hoped the surprise attack would reach the sea at the Belgian port of Antwerp and cut off the advancing allied armies. Bastogne, a market town that was also a critical road junction, was quickly besieged.
The U.S. troops — led by paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division — found themselves surrounded. But they resisted fiercely, and the key crossroads was never taken.
During the siege, Bastogne was heavily shelled and quickly reduced to ruins. Another Belgian nurse — Chiwy's friend Renee Lemaire — was killed along with about 30 patients when a bomb penetrated a cellar where she was tending to the wounded.
Gutman said the diminutive Chiwy combed battlefields during the battle, often coming under enemy fire, to collect the wounded in the deep snow.
"What I did was very normal," Chiwy said during the ceremony. "I would have done it for anyone. We are all children of God."
But Col. J.P. McGee, who commands a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, said that to the wounded soldiers Chiwy was "a goddess."
"Men lived and families were reunited due to your efforts," he said.
McGee said the army's doctor in Bastogne, John Prior, had joked that the German snipers couldn't hit Chiwy because she was so tiny. But Chiwy, who moved to Belgium from the colony of Congo before the war, responded that they were just bad shots.
McGee also gave Chiwy a letter of appreciation from Gen. David Petraeus, himself a former commander of the 101st Airborne.
After the battle, Chiwy slipped into obscurity, working as a hospital nurse treating spinal injuries. She married a Belgian soldier and had two children.
She was finally located several years ago by a British author and historian, Martin King, who had heard stories about a black nurse at Bastogne.
Chiwy was knighted by the Belgian king in June.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A doctor who provides abortions in Fort Wayne is losing his relationship with a local obstetrician and gynecologist who serves as a "back-up" physician.
Lutheran Health Network CEO Brian Bauer received the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash award at a ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Santa abandoned his traditional sleigh and arrived at Lutheran Children's Hospital in a fire truck.
Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control was busy Thursday afternoon responding to complaints of pets outside. Crews respond to every complaint in the hopes of preventing pets from freezing.
U.S. Census data shows that one Fort Wayne neighborhood is among the poorest in the state, and it the poverty rate has a direct correlation the rising crime statistics.
It was something that was never supposed to happen. A veteran who killed a woman in Indianapolis then took his own life was buried with full military honors. Since that day, the victim's family has been advocating against it.
The house fire affected traffic on U.S. 33 just north of Churubusco for over an hour. All lanes were back open less than two hours after the fire was called in.
Police said speed appeared to be a factor in a crash that all the occupants of the car seriously injured.
Three intersections on the north side of the city will have new left-turn signals that with a flashing yellow arrow. The new signals will be activated in January.
A plan is in the works to move Cindy's Diner from its current location in downtown Fort Wayne to another location one block northwest from its current location. The iconic restaurant has been a fixture downtown since 1990.
Former Komets executive, owner, general manager and coach Ken Ullyot passed away Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at the age of 92.
The organization claims such legislation would hamper the city's ability to grow economically and that Fort Wayne should be "competitive on a national level and be recognized as a community that thrives on diversity, innovation, and inclusion,”
A state commission seeking ways to improve the lives of Indiana's most vulnerable children is forming a task force to investigate whether there's a link between methamphetamine arrests and child welfare cases.
Scammers are claiming to be from a law enforcement agency and are threatening to arrest victims if they don't pay the fine for an alleged crime or debt.
The free course will go over the laws and regulations about squirrel hunting and will teach attendees how to field dress and prepare squirrels for the table.