For bravery and service in battle, Lt. Mary Roberts was the first female in the history of the United States to be awarded the Silver Star. The Silver Star is awarded for bravery, courage and service above and beyond the call of duty, and few have earned the award. Mary Roberts Wilson was the first woman to be awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in combat. During the battle of Anzio during World War II, and with her Army evacuation hospital under German shellfire, Wilson continued supervising her nursing staff of fifty, allowing the hospital to continue functioning. Tom Brokaw devoted an entire chapter to Wilson’s exploits in his best-selling book about World War II-era Americans, The Greatest Generation
She landed at Anzio five days after the Allied invasion that began Jan. 22, 1944. Fighting was still fierce, and the medical staff worked 12- to 15-hour shifts tending to wounded soldiers.
At one point she was asked if she and her 50 nurses wanted to be evacuated...
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