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The ambassador said the United States was 67 years late in presenting her with the award because officials thought she had been killed in a German bombing of the hospital where she worked. Another Belgian nurse was killed during the siege.

U.S. forces, led by paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division, had held the strategic town for seven days when Gen. George Patton’s Third Army rescued them. The Germans needed to control the crossroads town to advance toward the key Belgium port of Antwerp.

Col. J.P. McGee, commander of a brigade of the 101st Airborne, attended the ceremony and praised Mrs. Chiwy as a “goddess.”

“Men lived and families were united due to your efforts,” he told her.

Mrs. Chiwy, who was born in the Belgian Congo and later married a Belgian soldier, braved enemy fire as she rushed about the town to treat wounded soldiers.

British historian Martin King recently tracked her down after hearing stories of the exploits of a black nurse at Bastogne.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.