Augusta Chiwy was an American heroine, though she hailed from abroad. Chiwy, a wartime nurse who saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers injured in the bloodiest battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge, died Sunday near Brussels at age 94. Born in what is now Burundi, she moved to Belgium at age 9 and planned to become a teacher, but switched to nursing when war erupted, reports the New York Times. Chiwy volunteered in an aid station in Bastogne, where wounded and dying US soldiers by the thousands were being treated by a single doctor from December 1944 through January 1945. The diminutive Congo-born nurse braved the gunfire, helping whoever she could.
Chiwy, portrayed as the character "Anna" in the book and TV series Band of Brothers, received a Belgian knighthood and a US award for valor in 2011. During the battle, Bastogne was heavily shelled and reduced to ruins. "What I did was very normal," Chiwy said as she received the US Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service in 2011. "I would have done it for anyone. We are all children of God." Historian Martin King wrote a book about her called The Forgotten Nurse and released a TV documentary last year about his efforts to tell her story. He notes that regulations at the time prevented black nurses from treating white soldiers, but a doctor circumvented that by emphasizing to the solders that she was a volunteer. "You either let her treat you or you die," he told them.