WELLSBURG - A Beech Bottom woman who cared for many injured soldiers while serving as an Army nurse during World War II will be recognized as the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Foundation's Veteran of the Year.
Annabelle Coulter Hayward will receive the honor at the group's annual dinner-dance, which will be held April 16 at the Wellsburg Banquet Hall and also feature Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as guest speaker.
Doors will open at 5 p.m., with dinner served by Staffileno's on the River beginning at 6 p.m. and dancing to music by Twice As Nice from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Tickets are $25 per person and $45 per couple and may be purchased from any foundation member or by calling (304) 737-1032 by Wednesday.
Proceeds will go to efforts to establish a park within Brooke Hills Park honoring all Brooke County veterans and memorializing those who died while serving their country.
The park's new design and various military memorabilia will be displayed during the dinner.
Attendees also will have an opportunity to see and purchase brick pavers to be used in the park. The pavers, which will be engraved with the name of a loved one, may be sponsored for $150 each.
Hayward had been working as a nurse at East Liverpool Hospital when she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps.
Her first assignment was Lawson General Hospital in Atlanta. From there she served at the 44th Evacuation Hospital at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, followed by further training in Elkins, W.Va. and Camp Kilmer in New Jersey.
She and other Army nurses traveled aboard the Aquatania, the sister ship of the Lusitania, to Scotland and by train to England before being deployed to Omaha Beach, France, about 12 days after the invasion of Normandy.
As part of a medical evac unit, a mobile hospital set up beneath a tent, Hayward was one of two nurses in a ward treating soldiers with chest and stomach wounds.
The unit advanced to Belgium, where it treated casualties of the Battle of the Bulge. Foundation member John Chernenko of Wellsburg recalls being treated by Hayward after he was struck in the head and face by shrapnel during the battle.
A former state Senator and U.S. marshal and the foundation's first Veteran of the Year, he credits Hayward for saving his life.
When the war in Europe ended, Hayward was to be deployed to Japan, but fighting ended there also.
Enlisted as a first lieutenant, as was customary for Army nurses, she was discharged as a captain.
Following the war, she married Cleveland Hayward and moved to Cheybogan, Mich. But she returned to the Ohio Valley, living in Steubenville initially and later, Brooke County, where she served as a nurse with the county's health department from 1958 to 1981.
She also was the first and sole woman member of the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad until recent years, when her involvement was limited by her mobility.
All veterans attending the dinner will be asked to stand before those attending the dinner so they may be recognized.