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Her heroic work was kept top secret. Now everyone in Chesterfield will know her name.

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 17:27:01-04

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- The post office on Sycamore Square Drive in Chesterfield was officially named in honor of former Midlothian resident Dorothy Braden Bruce on Friday.

Bruce, who passed away in 2019 at age 99, was a top-secret World War II code breaker.

"My mother only learned that she could talk about what she did during the war when she was 97 years old," James Bruce said. "She barely lived long enough to tell the story. Her memory was remarkable."

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Bruce's life story was told in author Liza Mundy's book Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.

"Sworn to secrecy, Dorothy’s unit worked to disclose the locations of Japanese ships in the Pacific, identify and intercept enemy supply movements, and protect the lives of American servicemembers," a statement from Rep. Abigail Spanberger's office read. "As a cryptanalyst with the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ Signal Intelligence Service, Dorothy Bruce was one of thousands of American women serving as codebreakers throughout World War II."

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Bruce's son said his mom never said a word about her actions during the war. He only learned about her deeds when Mundy told Bruce the files had been de-classified.

"Even when she talked to Liza about it, after she knew it was declassified, she would grab her mouth as if she was in jeopardy if she said it," James Bruce said. "I mean, these women all believed they would be shot if they disclosed what they had done during the war."

James Bruce said his mom would be thrilled with the post office honor.

"The truth is, all she really wanted was to have a plaque at the assisted care facility where she was staying that just recognized she had been doing service during the war. That's all she was looking for," her son said. "So all of this, having a post office named for her was incredible. I mean, we would never have dreamed that."

"I'm glad to know that her name at this facility will spur conversations, serve as an example, and inspire," Rep. Spanberger, who pushed for the renaming in Congress, said at the ceremony. "Her story reminds us of what we can be and who we are, and have been as a nation."