(CNN) — Dorothy “Dot” Cole was the oldest living US Marine veteran when she died on January 7. She was 107 years old.
Cole, who was born in 1913 and grew up in Warren, Pennsylvania, suffered a heart attack in the home they shared in North Carolina, her daughter Beth Kluttz told CNN by phone SaturdayREAD MORE: No One Injured In Partial Building Collapse In Arnold
Cole decided she would take a stance to support her country after Japanese forces launched a surprise attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.
“There were women volunteering with the Red Cross and knitting while sitting in church, so I thought I had to do something,” Cole told the Marine Corps Times in an interview in September. “At the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything great. I knew I was helping our country.”
She was 28 years old in 1943 when she became among the first wave of women to join the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, according to her daughter.
Cole wanted to be like Amelia Earhart, Kluttz said, and had taken flying lessons in hopes of becoming a pilot.
“She thought she would impress the military by taking flying lessons. She had about 200 flying hours in, and flying a Piper Cub, and she thought that would impress the military and the Marine Corps,” Kluttz said. “But when she got in there, they just put her behind the desk.”
She attained the rank of sergeant before leaving the Marines. The Marine Corps paid tribute to Cole in a tweet that ended, “Semper Fi, Marine.”
Fair Winds and Following Seas
Join us in saying goodbye to Sgt. Dorothy (Schmidt) Cole who passed away last week as the oldest living Marine.
Last year, “Dotty” shared her story as she celebrated her 107th birthday. Semper Fi, Marine. pic.twitter.com/QUMVbt0sy4READ MORE: Pittsburgh Firefighter Drowns While On Vacation In Conneaut
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) January 12, 2021
The US Naval Institute said in a tweet that Cole was the oldest living Marine, and “like most women in the era,” was given clerical work so men could fight in combat. Women became a permanent part of the Marine Corps in 1948, according to the Women Marines Association.
Dorothy "Dot" Cole, who was the oldest living Marine, passed away on Thursday at the age of 107. She joined the USMC shortly after Pearl Habor with hopes of becoming a pilot but like most women in the era, was assigned to clerical work so that men could be freed for combat. #RIP pic.twitter.com/3ahazzMf01
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) January 14, 2021
The Marine Corps eventually saw its first female pilot in 1995, according to Military Times. All jobs in the military, including combat roles, were opened to women in 2016.
Cole, also an artist who loved her family and church and highly respected all veterans and first responders, served in the Marines until 1945, Kluttz said.
“She would want to salute all of the veterans for all the service that they’ve done and also the police and firemen,” Kluttz said.
Cole spent her final years at her daughter’s home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. She is survived by her daughter, two grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.MORE NEWS: Closed To Cars, Open To People: BikePGH Hosts 5th OpenStreetsPGH In Hazelwood
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