Dorothy Schmidt Cole, recognized last year as the oldest living U.S. Marine, has died at age 107.
Beth Kluttz, Cole’s only child, confirmed Friday that her mother died of a heart attack at Kluttz’s home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, on Jan. 7.
The Charlotte Observer reports Cole enlisted as one of the earliest female Marine reservists following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She had left her Ohio home to head to Pittsburgh, where she hoped to volunteer for the Navy, but because she was only 4 feet, 11 inches tall, she was deemed too short to meet Navy standards.
Undaunted by her rejection, Cole decided to learn how to fly an airplane and persuade the Marine Corps to let her be a pilot.
In July 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve into law, giving women the chance to fill positions left open by men headed to combat. The Corps delayed formation of the branch until February 1943, and Cole enlisted five months later at age 29, becoming one of the earliest volunteers for the branch.
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SOURCE: Boston Globe