One of the most celebrated women to serve in the American forces during World War II is being honored in a two-day-only exhibit at the Newman Museum this Veterans Day weekend.
1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz, a native of Freeland, Mich., was a flight nurse who flew 196 missions and evacuated more than 3,500 men, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
"While overseas, she was active in European, African and Italian battlefields," reads a biography of her on a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site. "Several times she helped to evacuate wounded soldiers from the Anzio Beachhead, which was under fire from the German Army."
A nephew of Lutz's lives in the Newman area and is loaning to the museum this weekend a collection of memorabilia, said Barbara Powell, a Newman Historical Society director. The exhibit will include her medals, a number of photographs and some of her clothing and hats, Powell said.
In November 1944, during an evacuation flight from the front lines near Lyon, France, her C-47 crashed into a mountainside during a storm. There were no survivors.
Lutz was buried with full military honors in the American Cemetery in Rone, France. Already a recipient of the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, she posthumously received the Distinguished Flying Cross. It was the first award of its kind given to an Army nurse in World War II, according to the VA.
Lutz served in Africa, the United Kingdom, Italy and France, Powell said. When England's King George VI visited North Africa during the war, Lutz was photographed with him during a balcony appearance in which he thanked U.S. Army personnel for their help, she said.
In 1945, an 800-patient U.S. Army hospital ship was named the Aleda E. Lutz. That same year, the Women's International Bowling Congress presented the military with an $80,000 check to buy a C-47 plane that was named Miss Nightingale III in her honor, according to a Wikipedia article.
The exhibit will include photographs of the airplane and ship because "we could not get either one of them inside the museum," Powell joked.
The Newman Museum is at 1209 Main St., right across from the Police Department. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
In other Veterans Day weekend events in the Modesto area:
- Modesto: Saturday, there will be a parade at 9 a.m. starting at O Street, heading northeast to Needham Avenue and then east to Graceada Park. There will be a service in the park following the parade. ... On Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Community Hospice (4368 Spyres Way) will dedicate engraved bricks and pavers to veterans at their Veteran’s Pavilion Dedication Ceremony. Light refreshments will be served. ... On Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. the Stanislaus Veterans Center (3500 Coffee Road) holds an open house to celebrate installation of inscribed pavers in the Memorial Garden Patio.
- Oakdale: There will be a 1 p.m. service at William A. Fish Veterns Park on Pontiac Street. The program will include speakers and music. Earlier in the day, there will be a breakfast at Bachi’s Family Diners at 401 East F St. It is $5 per person and free to veterans and their family.
- Escalon: There will be a parade at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday on Main Street followed by a barbecue from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Escalon Community Center. It’s hosted by the American Legion.
- Click here for a look at Merced-area events.
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