Today, we honor four incredible veterans who have made significant contributions to the United States military: Col. Ruby Bradley, Pvt. Cathay Williams, 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf, and Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum.
Col. Ruby Bradley enlisted in the United States Army Nurse Corps in 1934 as a surgical nurse. While serving in the Philippines, she was taken captive by Japanese forces in 1941. Despite her imprisonment, Bradley and other inmate nurses continued to care for their fellow inmates, earning them the nickname "angels in fatigues."
Pvt. Cathay Williams, also known as William Cathay, was the first Black woman to serve in the US Army. Born into slavery in Missouri, Williams enlisted under the pseudonym "William Cathay" in order to conceal her gender. She served as a cook and laundress for the army, paving the way for other women of color to serve in the military.
1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf was a member of the United States Army's cultural support team, a specialized group of female personnel intended to forge bonds with Afghan citizens. Stumpf's role represented a new opportunity for women in the military.
Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum is a retired flight surgeon who served with the 101st Airborne Division. During a mission to rescue a downed fighter pilot, her Black Hawk was shot down by enemy forces. Cornum survived the crash and was held captive in Iraq, despite suffering two broken arms, a gunshot wound, and knee injuries.
These four veterans represent just a small sample of the bravery and dedication of those who have served in the military. On this day, we honor their sacrifices and thank them for their service to our country.