A Belgian nurse who saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge was given a U.S. award for valor Monday — 67 years late.
Congolese-born Augusta Chiwy, now 93, received the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service medal from U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman at a ceremony in the military museum in Brussels.
“She helped, she helped, and she helped,” Gutman said at the ceremony. He said the long delay in presenting the award was because it was assumed that Chiwy had been killed when a bomb destroyed her hospital.
“What I did was very normal,” Chiwy said during the ceremony. “I would have done it for anyone. We are all children of God.”
But Col. J.P. McGee, who commands a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky., said that to the wounded soldiers Chiwy was “a goddess.”
“Men lived and families were reunited due to your efforts,” he said.
McGee said the Army’s doctor in Bastogne, John Prior, had joked that the German snipers couldn’t hit Chiwy because she was so tiny. But Chiwy, who moved to Belgium from the colony of Congo before the war, responded that they were just bad shots.
After the battle, Chiwy slipped into obscurity, working as a hospital nurse treating spinal injuries. She married a Belgian soldier and had two children.
Fans of the Band of Brothers mini-series will remember Chiwy (whose name is also spelt Chiwi) as the black nurse who appeared in episode six, "Bastogne."