The oldest living United States Marine celebrated her 107th birthday over the weekend.
Dorthy Schmidt Cole was born on Sept. 19, 1913 in Warren, Pennsylvania. She currently lives in Kannapolis, North Carolina where she celebrated her birthday. Sgt. Dot Cole received a birthday greetings from the Marine Corps, who honored her career and long life.
Dorothy Cole became a Marine in 1943.
Cole joined the Marines back in 1943 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She was one of 350,000 women who served in the military during World War II.
According to the Kannapolis’ Twitter page, Cole trained at Camp Lejeune and worked in an administrative role at Quantico in Virginia. According to the Marines, Cole worked in what had been a male-dominated field, but many of the men went to fight in the Pacific.
“Everyone was out doing something,” she said in a video posted to the Marine Corps’ official Facebook account. Cole also sang through a rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” a song from 1910. “The 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.”
Initially, Cole planned to join the Navy, but the branch turned her down because of her height. To prepare for the armed forces, Cole took hundreds of hours of flight lessons.
“I decided to go with the Marines,” Cole told the Independent Tribune. “I even took flying lessons of about 200 hours, thinking it would impress the Marines. But it didn’t. They put me behind a typewriter instead of an airplane.”
Cole told the outlet that the Marines discharged her at the end of the war in 1945. She remembered how happy everyone felt. She and several others started singing on the train back home.
Initially during the start of the war, the military only allowed women to serve in the Army or Navy Nurse Corps. As the war went on, each branch of military began allowing female recruits. In 1942, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox authorized a new Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. A year later, the Marines welcomed women like Cole to join the Reserve force.
In the Reserves first year, the number of women grew from four to almost 15,000 members, Cole among them. Today, women form around 8.4% of the Marine Corps.
[H/T: Fox News]