Friday, September 22, 2006

Coast Guard Women: Trailblazer dies, but trail still blazing

Our oldest SPAR, Dorothy Stratton, died earlier this week.

From the Navy Times:
Capt. Dorothy Stratton, the Coast Guard’s director of women’s reserves during World War II, died Sept. 17 in West Lafayette, Indiana. She was 107.

Stratton was named to lead the reserve, called SPARs, in 1942 when Congress authorized its creation. She had been serving as a lieutenant in the Navy Women’s Reserve, the WAVES, in early 1942.

In November 1942, Stratton received orders to Washington, D.C., to organize the Coast Guard women’s reserve. She received a commission as a Coast Guard lieutenant commander and became responsible for growing a force of 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 female commissioned officers, according to the Coast Guard.

She is credited for creating the name SPAR — an acronym linking the Coast Guard’s motto, Semper Paratus, with its English translation, Always Ready.

Stratton was promoted to captain before she left the Coast Guard in 1946.

Before World War II, Stratton served as a dean and assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University. Afterward, she continued in leadership positions, working as director of personnel for the International Monetary Fund and spending 10 years as national executive director of the Girl Scouts of America.

Stratton’s service continues to be honored: each year, the Coast Guard awards the Capt. Dorothy Stratton Leadership Award to a female officer who demonstrates outstanding mentorship. Also, the 225-foot seagoing buoy tender SPAR, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska, is named for those who served under Stratton during World War II.
Much has changed since the days of SPARs. Surfing today I came across tales of two Coast Guard Kates, Katie Anthony and Kate Higgins. Both Anthony and Higgins are in their late 20's -- 27 and 28, respectively -- and both are part of today's Coast Guard. Anthony is a petty officer on the Leadership Development Center's staff in New London; she was recently recognized for her volunteer contributions. Higgins is the commanding officer of BARANOFF, a 110-foot patrol boat working under Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.

Captain Stratton's trail continues to blaze.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Peter for even mentioning my name alongside Capt. Stratton. And for having such a great blog :0)

    Katie Anthony