Ed Saunders and WWI plaque

Ed Sunders shows a life-sized replica for a plaque honoring women veterans of World War I that will be permanently installed on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn. A ceremony to mark the occasion is at 10 a.m. Thursday. Saunders spent five years researching Montana women veterans.

BOB ZELLAR, Gazette Staff

As part of the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, Disabled American Veterans’ Billings chapter will conduct a public ceremony April 6 to dedicate a permanent bronze memorial plaque honoring 23 women veterans of the war with ties to Yellowstone County.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and will be held on the lawn of the Yellowstone County Courthouse, 217 N. 27th St.

According to a news release from Ed Saunders, who spearheaded the project, a detailed five-year search of local, state and federal records uncovered the identities of the women veterans. Twenty-one were nurses in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and two served as yeoman administrative support staff in the U.S. Navy.

The memorial will include the women’s names and where they served.

Almost half of the 23 served in France, many near battle lines. One county nurse was cited for heroism under fire. “These women served honorably and remain mostly unknown,” Saunders said.

DAV Chapter 10 is providing the plaque, which the organization believes is the first memorial of its kind in the state. Montana State University Billings’ City College metal fabrication students designed and built the memorial’s decorative base.

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