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Dorothy “Dot” Cole (1913–2021), oldest living U.S. Marine

by Linnea Crowther

Dorothy “Dot” Cole was a U.S. Marines veteran of World War II who was the oldest living Marine.

Serving her country

Cole was determined to enlist in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, when the U.S. entered World War II. She first tried the U.S. Navy, but she was not eligible because, at four feet 11 inches, she was too short. So she set her sights on the Marines — but before she tried to enlist, she learned to fly, hoping she could be a military pilot. Cole earned her private pilot’s license and, in 1943, she became one of the first women to enlist in the newly created Women’s Reserve Marine Corps. But her dreams of flying for her country didn’t come true; like many women then, she was assigned secretarial duties. Cole served in the Marines in Quantico, Virginia for two years. After the war, Cole worked as a secretary at the Ames Research Center — which later became a part of NASA – in Mountain View, California.

Cole on her dream of flight

“I thought that it would impress the Marine Corps, but it didn’t. I just landed on my old typewriter. The girls now, they have an open field with what they can do, so it’s gotten better.” —from a 2020 interview with the Marine Corps Times

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Tributes to Dorothy “Dot” Cole

Full obituary: The Charlotte Observer

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