Local woman’s story featured by CBS News
On Feb. 10, 1944, 2nd Lt. Ellen Ainsworth, a 24-year-old nurse from Glenwood City, was hit by enemy fire while attempting to save her patients during heavy artillery shelling at the 56th Evacuation Hospital in Anzio, Italy. Ainsworth died six days later from her wounds and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and the Red Cross Bronze medals.
Ainsworth’s bravery and courage in the face of danger was one of the many reasons that Sally Berkholder, who grew up in Glenwood City, decided to use Ellen as the topic for her Veterans Day article, which was submitted to CBSNews.com. Of the more than 1,000 entries CBS received, Berkholder’s story about the nurse from Glenwood City was chosen to be featured on the network’s website in an article written by Noreen O’Donnell.
“She was my hero because she was a trendsetter,” Berkholder said. “She had other choices of what she could do during the war, but she thought she could help out on the front, so that is what she did.”
Berkholder’s father was one of the children Ainsworth babysat before she shipped out with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II. Before she left, Ainsworth wrote in Berkholder’s father’s school yearbook that she would make it to a football game when he made it on the team.
“When I saw that CBSNews.com was looking for submissions, I thought of Ellen right away,” Berkholder said. “I got a call back from CBS and I was able to tell them about Ellen and all that she did. She was not concerned about her own safety, just about the safety of her patients.”
Ainsworth will be commemorated with a paving stone placed in her honor at the new Glenwood City school athletic field as part of a veterans memorial.
“It is heartwarming to see her remembered after all these years,” Berkholder said. “I was really excited to see that CBS chose to tell her story. She was a woman with a lot of personal ambition, and she was very dedicated to her position.”
A portrait of Ainsworth hangs in the halls of the Pentagon as a reminder of what she did and the sacrifices she made. She is buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy.