The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement



Many of the arguments against women in combat contain the cry that women should not be prisoners of war - well get real folks - civilian and military women have already been prisoners of war!

drwalk.gifDuring the Civil War Dr. Mary Walker was held for four months in a Confederate prison camp, accused of being a spy for the Union Army. Doctor Walker is the only woman to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Major Pauline Cushman was arrested and imprisoned by the Confederacy and sentenced to hang for being a spy. The arrival of Union troops saved her from the gallows.

belle.gifBelle Boyd (left) spied for the Confederacy by carrying important letters and papers across enemy lines. She was imprisoned in a Union prison for her espionage activities.

Nancy Hart served as a Confederate scout, guide and spy, carrying messages between the Southern Armies. Nancy was twenty years old when she was captured by the Yankees and jailed. Nancy gained the trust of one of her guards, got his weapon from him, shot him and escaped.

During World War One both Edith Cavell and Mata Hari were prisoners of war and were executed for being spies.


Often ignored by history is the story of the women prisoners of war taken captive during World War Two. Sixty seven Army nurses and sixteen Navy nurses spent three years as prisoners of the Japanese. Many were captured when Corregidor fell in 1942 and were subsequently transported to the Santo Tomas Internment camp in Manila, in the Philippines. Santo Tomas was not liberated until February of 1945. Five Navy nurses were captured on Guam and interned in a military prison in Japan.

        jpow.gifHere is a rare WWII poster featuring the Nurses on Corregidor in a Japanese POW camp. One seriously doubts that they would be in whites with red and blue capes while prisoners but the point was being made to appeal to defense workers.

In Europe U.S.-born Mildred Harnack-Fish, a German Resistance fighter was captured, interned, and executed in Berlin's Plotzense Prison in 1943.

Lieutenant Reba Whittle, an Army Flight Nurse was captured by the Germans after her hospital plane was shot down, in 1944.

Agnes Newton Keith was imprisoned in several Japanese camps from 1941 until the end of the war. Her story was told in the movie "Three Came Home" starring Claudette Colbert.

The true story of the women who were the wives and daughters of British, Dutch and Australian colonialists and who formed a vocal orchestra while prisoners of the Japanese in Sumatra was portrayed in the film Paradise Road with Glenn Close.

During the Vietnam War Monika Schwinn, a German nurse, was held captive for three and a half years - at one time the only woman prisoner at the "Hanoi Hilton."

The following missionaries were POWs: Evelyn Anderson, captured and later burned to death in Kengkok, Laos, 1972. Remains recovered and returned to U.S.

Beatrice Kosin was captured and burned to death in Kengkok, Laos, 1972. Remains recovered and returned to U.S.

Betty Ann Olsen was captured during a raid on the leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot during Tet 1968. She died in 1968 and was buried somewhere along Ho Chi Minh Trail by fellow POW, Michael Benge.

Eleanor Ardel Vietti was captured at the leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot, May 30, 1962. She is still listed as POW.

Operation Desert Storm saw the capture and imprisonment of an Army Flight Surgeon, Major Rhonda Cornum and an Army Transportation Specialist-Sp4 Melissa Rathbun-Nealy.

To be sure there are many more women who have been prisoners of war. Military women and civilian women from nations around the world, from wars long forgotten, and from covert operations never revealed. They have been denied recognition, denied awards and decorations, and denied their rightful place in history. The American military refuses to acknowledge their combat status. The American public thinks it never happened. The righteous radicals leave it out in their rhetoric against women in the military.

Women while serving their country, have been wounded, have been imprisoned, and have given their lives.

In all ways, women are veterans, too!

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