Sgt Dorothy “Dotty” Cole – USMC

Sgt Dorothy Cole - USMC
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Sgt Dorothy “Dotty” {nee: Schmidt} Cole - USMC

Dorothy was born on Sept. 19, 1913, and spent her childhood in Warren, Pennsylvania, where he mother gave her the nickname “Half-Pint”. Dotty joined the Marine Corps in 1943 at the age of 28, motivated by the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7th, 1941. She was actually one of the first group of women to join the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

In an interview in 2021, Dorthy explained that she wanted to join the Navy, because she loved the hats they were wearing at the time, but the Navy said she was too short (at 4’11”) to enlist.  She had been taking flying lessons and even had her private pilot’s license, in the hopes that the Navy or Marine Corps would make her a pilot, however, when she was accepted into the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, they put her behind a desk.

By the end of 1944, only 40 women had been permitted to fly noncombat missions with the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Sadly, the Marine Corps didn’t see its first female pilots until 1995, all combat roles were finally opened to women at the start of 2016.

During her service, Dotty had to endure the sexist names that the male Marines had given the females, names like ‘Glamarines’, ‘Dainty Devil-Dogs’, and ‘Sub-Marines’ being a few. Then Commandant of the Marine Corps, Major General Thomas Holcomb, said, “They don’t have a nickname and they don’t need one…They inherit the traditions of Marines. They are Marines”. 

When Dorthy enlisted in the Marine Corps, she spent six weeks in boot camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. She was then transferred to Quantico, where she spent two years typing correspondences for officers on the firing range. She met her husband, Wiley Cole, during the war. Wiley was a pilot in the Navy aboard the USS Hornet CV-8, prior to it being sunk by Japanese torpedos from the Japanese destroyers Makigumo and Akigumo in the Pacific.

After the war, Dorthy was discharged from the Marine Corps in December 1945. After the Marine Corps, Dotty moved to San Francisco, got married, and worked at the Ames Research Center (which became part of NASA). Sadly Dotty became a widow in 1955, when her husband, Wiley died of a heart attack.

She was part of the Marine Corps League, Detachment 1175 in Concord, N.C. She appeared in the 2020 Marine Corps 245th Birthday message video.

She turned 107 in September 2020, and sadly passed away from a heart attack in her Kannapolis, North Carolina, on January 7th, 2021.

    Honors, Awards and Medals

    Sgt Dorothy Cole - USMC - American Campaign Ribbon


    ***Note*** My Google Foo failed me and I’m unable to locate any details about what medals and ribbons Sgt Cole was presented with the exception of the American Campaign Ribbon. If you have details, please email me.

    'Til Valhalla my sister

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