National Purple Heart Day profile: Annie Fox

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WWII Nurse 1LT. Annie G. Fox: First Woman to Earn the Purple Heart

As the nation celebrates military heroes on National Purple Heart Day, AOL takes a look at some of the most compelling, heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories behind those who have earned the prestigious award.

The history of the Purple Heart stretches as far back as the American Revolution, but for women it begins in 1942 -- that's when First Lieutenant Annie Fox of the Army Nurse Corps became the first woman in U.S history to earn the honor.

Many Hollywood movies and historical documentaries have tried to replicate the chaos that was the triage unit at Pearl Harbor the day of the attacks, but as the chief nurse on duty December 7th at Hickam Field, Fox experienced it first hand.

Purple Heart Recipient: Annie Fox
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National Purple Heart Day profile: Annie Fox
Captain Annie Fox, Army nurse since 1918 on Dec. 17, 1943 is the first woman to receive Purple Heart. (AP Photo)
A section of the parade down Fifth Avenue of uniformed members of Women’s Volunteer Defense organizations, passes the reviewing stand at 67th Street in New York, April 11, 1942. It was New York’s first all-women parade since the days of the First World War. The parade, in which about 15,000 marched, was held to stimulate the enrollment of 10,000 volunteer nurses’ aides. (AP Photo/Robert Wands)
U.S. Army Nurses in Wales (AP Photo)
U.S. Army nurses in full field dress carrying their equipment crowd the deck of a transport as they prepare to debark at a British port, March 15, 1944. (AP Photo)
These Army nurses, stationed in Wales, May 24, 1944, are going through a course in self-defense. The training is required before they are assigned to war areas. (AP Photo)
U.S. army nurses, first to land with the vanguard of American troops in Normandy on June 15, 1944, relax from their duties as they sit on the grass at chow time outside their field hospital. (AP Photo)
US Army Nurse Corps recruitment poster (Ruzzie Green, artist) features a uniformed female officer under the header 'You Are Needed Now,' 1943. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Fox saved lives by treating those with severe burns or lost limbs, administering anesthesia, dressing wounds, and directing and training volunteer nurses with little to no experience.

It's said she did it all cool, calm and collected.

Fox was never wounded, but in those days the medal was given for heroic service in combat.
Two years later when the criteria was changed to those wounded or killed in action 1LT. Fox was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her heroic act in lieu of the Purple Heart.

We still think she's a boss and clearly others do too, today she remains in the conversation among the top women in American history. She's now in the running to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill as the U.S. treasury prepares to add a woman by 2020.

Read more awe-inspiring stories about heroes who have earned a Purple Heart award:

Charles Elder was shocked to receive the honor 65 years after he served in the Korean war

Henry Johnson​ was a fiercely brave member of the famed WWII Harlem Hellfighters

Kristin Beck overcame immeasurable challenges on the battlefield and then at home

Calvin Winright's family had no idea he died a war hero -- until one woman found his award

Chris Melendez joined the military after the 9/11 attacks and now he's making history

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