- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Every Dec. 24 when his children were still young, World War II veteran John “Jack” Prior would read them “The Night Before Christmas.” Then he would tell them the story about the Christmas Eve he spent treating scores of wounded soldiers in Belgium with the help of just two nurses, one of whom he would remain in contact with until his 2007 death.

That nurse, Augusta Chiwy, died Sunday at 94 in Brussels. After the Battle of the Bulge started in December 1944, she worked at a Bastogne aid station where more than 100 wounded and dying U.S. soldiers were treated by Dr. Prior, a St. Albans, Vermont, native who settled in DeWitt, New York, after the war.

With Bastogne surrounded by the Germans, Prior, Chiwy (pronounced CHEE-wee) and a second nurse, Renee Lemaire, treated all the casualties brought to their station during the fierce fighting. Lemaire and about 30 soldiers died on the night of Dec. 24 when a bomb hit a building full of the wounded.

Chiwy was in a house next door and survived, but the blast from the explosion sent her through a wall. She recovered and resumed treating the wounded, according to British author Martin King, who has written about Chiwy’s heroism.

Prior, who graduated from the University of Vermont’s medical school in 1943, was a captain attached to the 10th Armored Division during the Bulge. In an account of the Bastogne siege he wrote in 1972 for the Syracuse-area medical society, Prior said he and other soldiers shaved with champagne because fresh water was so scarce in the city.

Prior and his wife, Elizabeth, raised six children outside Syracuse, where he worked as a pathologist for many years.

Prior’s family told The Post-Standard of Syracuse (http://bit.ly/1JzPdo2 ) that every Christmas until his death in 2007 at 90, the doctor received chocolates and a card from Chiwy. They meet again in 1994 at a memorial gathering in Bastogne. According to one of Prior’s daughters, Chiwy kept the letters and family photos that he sent her on a wall near her bed in the nursing home where she lived.

In 2011, the U.S. Army honored Chiwy with its Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service.

“My only regret,” Anne Prior Stringer told The Post-Standard, “is that my father didn’t live long enough to see her honored in the way he always thought she should be.”

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