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Sgt Dorothy Schmidt Cole, Oldest Living US Marine, Dies Aged 107

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Sergeant Dorothy Schmidt Cole, the oldest living veteran of the United States Marine Corps, passed away at the age of 107 earlier this month. Her death was confirmed by her daughter Beth Kluttz, who said Cole died of a heart attack on January 7 at their home in North Carolina. Motivated by the US’ war efforts during the Second World War, Cole had reportedly enlisted as a marine officer following the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941. She is survived by her daughter, two granddaughters, and six great-grandchildren.

As per an obituary in Lady’s Funeral Home, Cole served at Quantico during WWII and was also employed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. In memoriam, the Marine Corps shared a tribute to Cole on social media. In it, the late veteran can be heard saying, “Everyone was out doing something… There were women helping the Red Cross, or even in churches they were knitting things, so I decided that I wanted to do something, and I would go into the Marine Corps.”

See the tribute video by USMC below: 

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Remembering Dorothy Cole

Lovingly known as ‘Dot’ or ‘Dotty,’ 1913-born Cole was given recognition as the oldest marine only last year. According to the Marine Corps Times, Cole’s enlistment to the US Marines was instrumental in clearing the path for more women to join the services after her. 

At Cole’s height of 4’11, The Charlotte Observer reports that she was initially rejected by the Navy, which was the first choice of her employment. Over at the Marines, women were largely employed in clerical duties. In 1942,  a year after the Pearl Harbour bombing, US President Franklin D Roosevelt gave assent to bring the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve into law, thereby giving Cole an opportunity to volunteer amidst the growing socio-political tensions. In 1943, she became an officer of the US Marines.

In an interview last year, Cole remarked, “I loved the hats we were wearing. It was fun when I got the first complete Marine outfit. I loved it very much and felt right at home with it.”

Image Credit: WGNRadio + 13NewsNow

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