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Col. Ruby Bradley

Smart and tough, Bradley often drew on the lessons she had learned under fire and during her captivity, where she earned a reputation as one of the most durable and reliable women in camp.
Elizabeth Norman, Author

Nursing has been a vital part of healthcare and medicine for a few hundred years. During times of conflict, amazing and heroic acts by nurses in service are not hard to find. But today, we wish to share a story with you about one incredible nurse, Army Colonel Ruby Bradley. While working as a hospital administrator at Camp John Hay in the Philippines, Bradley was captured by the Japanese Army just three weeks following the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. She found herself detained along with other prisoners of war (POWs) at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila.

Once detained, Bradley sprang into action, providing immediate medical care to fellow prisoners and secretly distributing food to those in need, often sacrificing her own meals to ensure the wellbeing of others. Her weight dropped significantly, enabling her to sneak outdated medical tools and supplies into the camp by concealing them beneath her clothing without detection. Over her 37-month imprisonment, Bradley performed 230 significant surgeries and helped bring 13 infants into the world.

When liberation came in February 1945, Bradley’s weight had plummeted to just 84 pounds, a testament to her selflessness, as she had allocated most of her food portions to the camp’s children. Her peers dubbed Bradley and her fellow nurses as “Angels in Fatigues” for their compassionate service.

Following WWII, Bradley pursued her Army career further, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California merely four years post-war. She later participated in the Korean War and was promoted to the rank of colonel, leading up to her retirement in 1963. Over her distinguished career, she was honored with 34 awards, decorations, and medals, among them the Bronze Star Medal.

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