Miss Banker Wins the D. S. M. For Bravery - 1919
Chief Operator, US Army Signal Corps Telephone Operators, Shown Here Shortly After Receiving the Distinguished Service Medal in Coblenz, Germany on 22 May 1919. Official US Army Signal Corps Photograph. GGA Image ID # 19ad61fc34
Passaic Young Woman Decorated by Lt. General Liggett.
Decorated by Lieutenant-General Liggett Before Officers and Men of the First Army at Coblenz
Was Great Aid in Two Big Victories
Coblenz, May 26, --Before a large crowd of admiring officers and enlisted men, Miss Grace D. Banker of Passaic, NJ, received the distinguished service medal from Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett, commander of the First Army at army headquarters Thursday.
Miss Banker is chief operator of the army telephone service here and has been overseas one year at general headquarters and with the First Army. The citation reads:
“From exceedingly meritorious and distinguished service, and by untiring devotion to her exacting duties under trying conditions, did much to assure the success of the phone system during the operations against the St. Mihiel salient and north of Verdun.
Miss Banker First U.S. Girl in Uniform Over There
Miss Grace D. Banker is a daughter of Mrs. William B. Banker of 227 Van Houten Avenue and a graduate of Passaic High School and also Barnard College, class of 1915.
She was the first uniformed young woman to join the U. S. expeditionary forces and was chief of the first unit of telephone operators who left this country for France.
Following her graduation from Barnard, Miss Banker became a member of the staff of instructors in the educational department of the New York Telephone Company. In January 1918, she organized the first unit of phone operators for service in France. It consisted of herself, four supervisors and twenty-eight operators who sailed in March of last year.
For five months the unit was stationed at the general headquarters of the U. S. Army at Chaumont and then it moved forward with the First Army.
On many occasions, the exchange in which Miss Banker and here assistants were located was under shell and bomb fire and at Souilly, the exchange was burned, and several houses destroyed by German bombs from airplanes.
Mrs. Banker, who learned from The Daily News that her daughter had been decorated, was elated with the news as were the many friends of Miss Banker. A few days ago, Mrs. Banker received a letter from her daughter, written by her in Paris. Naturally the Associated Press dispatch telling of her being decorated in Coblenz, Germany, comes as a surprise.
A brother of Miss Banker, Corporal Eugene Banker of the 77th Field Artillery, Fourth Division, is with the Army of Occupation in Germany. He enlisted in April 1917.
Associated Press, “Miss Banker Wins the D. S. M. For Bravery,” in the Passaic Daily News, Passaic, New Jersey, Monday, 26 May 1919, p. 1.