Dorothy Schmidt Cole, a longtime veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, has died at the age of 107. She was recognized last year as the oldest living U.S. Marine and was one of the first women to serve in the military branch.
Beth Kluttz, Cole’s only child, confirmed to the AP Friday that her mother died of a heart attack at Kluttz’s home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, on Jan. 7.
“Sergeant Dot” originally wanted to enlist in the U.S. Navy following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but was deemed too short for the naval standards at 4-foot-11. After being rejected, she learned how to fly an airplane and became a pilot for the Marine Corps in 1942.
According to the AP, “Despite putting in 200 hours in the cockpit of a Piper Cub, Cole completed six weeks of boot camp at Camp Lejeune with the Women’s Reserve’s First Battalion and wound up “behind a typewriter instead of an airplane.”
“Cole’s husband, Wiley, was in the Navy and served on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, which sailed in both the Pacific Theater and the Solomon Islands campaign during World War II before it was torpedoed and sunk in October 1942.
“The couple moved to San Francisco after the war. They married and had their only child in 1953. The couple were both hired by the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley in California before Wiley Cole died of a heart attack in 1955. Kluttz moved from California to North Carolina in 1976 and Cole followed her to the area around 1979.”
She outlived her husband by 65 years and never remarried. Cole was awarded lifetime membership in the Marine Corps League Cabarrus Detachment 1175 in September of last year.