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Oklahoma Legislature honors World War II nurse who was trapped behind enemy lines

The 94-year-old honored at the Oklahoma Capitol says she always carried with her extra socks because soldiers during the northern French winters suffered frozen feet. The lipstick she took just ‘being a gal,' she says.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 21, 2013

Mabel Ruth “Mike” Stephanic, a nurse who spent 10 days caring for injured soldiers behind German lines in the dead of winter toward the end of World War II, always had lipstick and extra socks.

“We could only take what we could carry,” she said, “and typically I took a lipstick and a pair of socks because everybody was coming in with frozen feet so I took an extra pair of socks but being a gal I took a lipstick.”

Stephanic, who turned 94 last week, was recognized Wednesday during a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature as part of Veterans Awareness Day at the state Capitol.

Stephanic, a resident of the Norman Veterans Center, was a nurse and an Army second lieutenant during World War II. She served from July 7, 1943, to Dec. 17, 1945.

In December 1944, she and other nurses in her unit were cut off from American troops 12 miles behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge.

“We'd operate, pack up and move,” Stephanic said.

The 101st Airborne was sent to rescue them near Bastogne.

Stephanic said she and the others were too busy treating injured soldiers to be scared.

They treated American soldiers and their allies, the French, as well as injured enemy German soldiers, Stephanic said.

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I'm fortunate in the fact that I'm pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways but we have a lot of people who are not.”

Mabel Ruth “Mike” Stephanic,
Stephanic, a resident of the Norman Veterans Center, was recognized at a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature.

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