Coast Guard Veteran Dorothy Stratton is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Coast Guard Veteran Dorothy C. Stratton was born in Brookfield, Missouri, in March 1899. After finishing grade school in the Midwest, she attended Ottawa University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1920. Stratton continued her education, receiving a master’s at the University of Chicago and a doctorate at Columbia University. Continuing in academia, she became the dean of women at Purdue University, and later a professor in psychology.
The United States’ entry into World War II in December 1941 provided Stratton an opportunity to serve her country differently. In 1942, she joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and was commissioned as a lieutenant. Shortly after Stratton joined, she applied and was chosen to be the director of the newly created Women’s Reserve of the United States Coast Guard. She set up shop in Washington, using the American Association of University Women (AAUW) building as its headquarters. According to the AAUW website, the building was a “wartime center for women important in national and international affairs.”
Stratton named the newly founded reserve SPARS, an acronym combining the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus” with its English translation, Always Ready. Under her directorship, the goal was to recruit women into the military, and she largely succeeded, having recruited almost 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 more commissioned officers. Stratton and SPARS continued to advocate for women entering military service and for equal recognition.
After the war’s conclusion, Stratton returned to Purdue as dean of women, but acquired additional posts as well. She was the first director of personnel at the newly formed International Monetary Fund in 1947, and she became an executive director at the Girl Scouts three years later. She retired from work in 1960.
Stratton received the Legion of Merit for her significant accomplishments for women during the war. The Coast Guard also named the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in her honor. Stratton died in 2006. She was 107.
We honor her service.
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Writer: Ryan Beane
Editors: Alexander Reza, Theresa Lyon
Fact checkers: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski