Aleda E. Lutz was born on November 9, 1915 in Freeland, Michigan. Aleda E. Lutz, a graduate of the Saginaw General Nursing School, enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) in November 1941. She was stationed as a general duty nurse at Station Hospital at Selfridge Field, Michigan. She later transferred to the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transportation Squadron (MAETS) and was promoted on December 17, 1943 to Lieutenant, Army Nurse Corps. Her last assignment was General Duty Nurse, 802nd MAETS.
Lieut. Lutz gave much comfort and aid to wounded troops that were being evacuated from the battle front. She came into many combat zones while evacuating wounded troops. While overseas, she was active in European, African, and Italian battlefields. Several times she helped to evacuate wounded soldiers from the Anzio Beachhead, which was under fire from the German Army.
Lieut. Lutz was involved in 196 missions and had accumulated 814 hours in the air, more than any other army nurse. On the tragic day of her death, November 1, 1944, Lieutenant Lutz was transporting 15 wounded soldiers from Lyon, France to a hospital in Italy in a C-47 when a violent storm was encountered. The pilot lost control of the plane and it crashed into the side of a mountain in St. Chaumon, France. There were no survivors. Lieutenant Lutz was buried with full military honors in an American Cemetery in France.
Lieut. Lutz, known as "Lutzy" to all who knew her, was 28 years old when she was killed; she is thought to be the first female killed in action in World War II.
Lieut. Lutz received the Distinguished Flying Cross. This was the first award of its kind ever given to an Army Nurse in World War II. The citation read:
"For outstanding proficiency and selfless devotion to duty."
Lieut. Lutz had five battle stars: Tunisia, Sicily, South Italy, Central Italy, and South France; she also received an Air Medal with Four Oak Leaf Clusters.
The Saginaw Veterans Affairs Medical Center was dedicated in her memory in 1950 and was rededicated in her name on October 12, 1990.
Aleda E. Lutz
(1915 - 1944)
Area(s) of Achievement: Aviation,Medicine/Health Care,Military
"For outstanding proficiency and selfless devotion to duty," reads the citation accompanying the Distinguished Flying Cross presented in December of 1944 to First Lieutenant Aleda Lutz of Freeland. She had volunteered for duty with the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, the first of its kind. Lutz had recorded 814 hours in the air when the C47 hospital plane evacuating 15 wounded soldiers from the battlefront near Lyons in Italy crashed killing all aboard.
Aleda E. Lutz is one of the most celebrated women war heroes of World War II. As a First Lieutenant Army Flight Nurse she flew 196 missions evacuating over 3500 men. She also logged the most flight hours of any flight nurse. She earned six battle stars before her death, and she was recorded as the first military woman to die in a combat zone in World War II. Lutz was awarded the Air Medal four times, the Oak Leaf Cluster, the Red Cross Medal, and the Purple Heart. She was also the first woman awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in a World War, our nation's second highest military honor.
A Veteran's Medical facility located in her hometown of Saginaw, has been named after her by Congressional Decree. The congressional resolution was first offered in 1949, but died in committee, mainly because she was a woman. Though the building was completed in 1950, it was not until August 15, 1990, that it was officially named. The United States Army Hospital Ship and a C-47 plane have also been named in her honor. With the exception of the Civil War Era Doctor Mary Walker, these honors make Aleda E. Lutz the highest decorated woman in the history of the United States of America.