Louise McRoberts receives Liberty Medal
Friday, June 20, 2014
By Michael Ryan Columbia-Greene Media
WINDHAM — The highest honor given to an individual by the New York State Senate was presented to Louise McRoberts of Windham, leading up to Memorial Day.
McRoberts received the Liberty Medal in a ceremony hosted by VFW Post #1545 in Windham on May 23, presented by State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk.
“It is incumbent upon the people of the State of New York to recognize and acknowledge those within our midst who have made significant contributions to the quality of life therein,” a legislative resolution states.
“From time to time this legislative body takes note of certain extraordinary individuals it wishes to recognize... and publicly acknowledges their endeavors which have enhanced the basic humanity among us all,” the resolution states.
“This legislative body is justly proud to [pause in its deliberations] to honor Louise McRoberts,” the resolution states, noting the Liberty Medal was established this year to single out individuals performing exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts.
Mrs. McRoberts has been assisting others virtually non-stop since World War II when she followed her brothers, cousins and friends into harm’s way.
“Of the thousands of troops who enlisted in the United States Armed Services during the Second World War, approximately 400,000 women served” with medical units or as clerical aids, the resolution states.
Mrs. McRoberts “had the distinction of serving in both capacities, first helping to care for the wounded returning stateside during the Battle of the Bulge, and later in Germany serving with General George S. Patton’s Third Army, weeks after the surrender of the Third Reich,” the resolution states.
Poignantly telling her story, the resolution notes Mrs. McRoberts was born in Hollis, Queens, in October, 1924, the daughter of Erna and Henry Kading.
She was a teenager when the war began, too young to enlist, signing up with the Women’s Army Corp. in 1944, on her 20th birthday.
“During her instruction at an Army camp in Georgia, although women were never assigned combat duties, Louise McRoberts’ basic training was just as rigorous as that for men, with the same level of physical activity,” the resolution states.
“Soon after her training, [she] was deployed to a medical unit, serving in a triage-type capacity as wounded Americans arrived by the thousands during the infamous Battle of the Bulge.
“McRoberts was stationed at Camp Shanks which holds the distinction of being the nation’s largest embarkation point for troops being deployed overseas, including 75 percent of those involved in the D-day invasions.
“At the time it was dubbed “Last Stop USA,” the resolution states, noting, “for weeks, and in shifts which lasted for days, the soldiers continued to arrive at the medical unit where Louise McRoberts was assigned, sorting them for care, depending on the severity of their wounds.
“By early May, 1945, Germany had surrendered and Louise McRoberts was assigned to Patton’s Third Army, special services. This duty would take her to Heidelberg, Germany, where she would handle postwar furloughs for GI’s and arrange for entertainment for the troops.
“In August, 1945, Louise McRoberts was on her way to Germany when she heard the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The unit she was traveling with was briefly detained in France. She observed much devastation but was joyed hearing the war had ended,” the resolution states.
Marrying her military sweetheart, Charles McRoberts, after the war, the couple together had two children, then moved to the mountains in the early 1960’s.
Picking up where she really never left off, “Louise McRoberts [now nearly 90 years old] has remained active in her community and attends many military commemorative events,” the resolution states.
“She has volunteered extensively to help others, has worked with the Meals on Wheels program, is active in reading for youth programs and is active in her church,” while also attending VFW meetings and functions, the resolution states.
Never sitting still for very long, McRoberts has three grandchildren and, in 2010, was a Greene County veteran enjoying one of the Honor Flights to the World War II Memorial in our nation’s capital.
“The dedication and sacrifices of our military personnel ensure our continued role as a Nation which embodies the ideals of democracy and is a defender of liberty for peoples throughout the world,” the resolution states.
“It is the sense of this legislative body to pay the highest tribute to the valiant service displayed by the members of the United States Armed Force during that time of crisis,” the resolution states, including among them Windham’s own Louise McRoberts.