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First Name: Hattie

Last Name: Brantley

Birthplace: Jefferson, TX, USA

Gender: Female

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: R.

Date of Birth: 04 April 1916

Date of Death: 20 September 2006

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
Hattie R. Brantley

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Hattie R. "H.R." Brantley
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Nurse Corps

Hattie Brantley was born on 4 April 1916 in Jefferson, TX.

Brantley, known as "H.R." to friends and family alike, might have developed her stamina as a child growing up on a farm near Jefferson. She worked as hard as any of her brothers on the 112 acres, said her youngest brother, Stanford Brantley, knowing all the while that she would one day become a nurse.

"She decided to be a nurse at a very young age," her brother said. Later the young woman who "loved to ride horses and wanted to see the world would end up eating horses," he said. [Her headstone contains this inscription: "I joined the Army to see the world and ride a horse. In a Japanese prison camp I ate the horse."]

After obtaining her nursing degree at Baylor University, H.R. joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. In 1942, she was a Lieutenant and nurse serving in the Philippines Islands when the Japanese attacked and invaded. She was evacuated to the fortified island of Corregidor and escaped the horrors of the Bataan Death March. But she was evacuated to the prison camp at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila where most of her days were spent caring for fellow prisoners, including survivors of the death march and Japanese abuses. H.R. saw to it they had the best care she could possibly give them.

H.R. survived an agonizing two years, 10 months and 27 days as a prisoner of war. "She was a GI's nurse all the way," said Stanford. "She enjoyed working in a military hospital and taking care of the GIs. She felt they deserved the best comfort and care available and did her best to give it to them. Her priority was good medical care for the GI."

Brantley went on to make the Army her career; devoting 28 years to medical care for soldiers. The female counterparts of the famed "Battling Bastards of Bataan," the 99 Angels remain the only group of American military women captured and imprisoned by the enemy, according to the book "We Band of Angels" by Elizabeth Norman.

According to H.R. Brantley's friend, Bill Keith, this angel was "tough as nails yet gentle as a lamb." Keith, author of "Days of Anguish, Days of Hope," a book about prisoners of war in the Philippines, said he had heard of nurse Brantley before he met her. While ranching near H.R. Brantley's hometown of Jefferson, Keith said he finally had the pleasure of meeting her. She and brother Stanford became beekeepers, using Keith's ranch to grow the hive.

"She was really very quiet and unassuming," Keith said, "but she was absolutely brilliant and a very determined woman."

Above all else, Stanford said his sister was devoted to the art of nursing. Together with her college roommate, CeCile Bledso, she co-established the Bledso-Brantley endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund at their alma mater, Baylor University. "I want to stress that she was devoted to the field of nursing," Stanford said.

When she retired from the Army in 1969 as a Lieutenant Colonel after nearly 30 years of service, she was the last Army prisoner of war nurse from World War II in uniform. She was known as the "Angel of Bataan."

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel Hattie Brantley, the "Angel of Bataan" died on 20 September 2006 in Jefferson, TX. She is buried at New Prospect Cemetery in Jefferson.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
"H.R." was simply her first and middle initials.

Honoree ID: 2280   Created by: MHOH




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