Jane Early May 23, 2021

1st Lt. Mary Louise Roberts, a World War II Army nurse, was the first female in the history of the United States Army to be awarded the Silver Star. The Silver Star is awarded for bravery, courage, and service above and beyond the call of duty.

Mary Louise had landed five days into the battle of Anzio on January 22, 1944. The fighting was fierce, many wounded, the medical staff worked 12-15 hours shifts to maintain the evacuation hospital. The opportunity to evacuate was declined until the Germans bombed the hospital. 42 patients were then evacuated by flashlight without incident. Four nurses: 1st Lt. Mary Roberts, 2nd Lt. Elaine Roe, 2nd Lt. Rita Virginia Rourke, and Lt. Ellen Ainsworth were awarded a Silver Star for bravery. These were the first four women in the Army.

The Museum of Nursing History has become a repository for many artifacts pertaining to World War II-era nurses.

Reference: Brokaw, T. (1998). “The Greatest Generation”. New York, NY: NY Random House, Inc.