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She joined the Navy as a Nurse Corps officer.
Fast forward nearly 80 years from that battle-scarred time of history. A long-time friend of Cole thought it would be a nice gesture if somehow the Navy could return the favor and provide support to help celebrate a personal milestone.
As soon as Navy Nurse Corps officers assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton heard about the request, they unhesitatingly agreed to meet-and-greet with Cole, to help celebrate her 102nd birthday, July 1, 2022.
Capt. Patrick Fitzpatrick, Naval Hospital Bremerton director and Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton commanding officer, and Capt. Shawn Kase, Directorate of Nursing Service department head, met with Cole at The Cottage, located in East Bremerton and presented a letter of commendation for her “exceptional service to the United States Navy Nurse Corps during the Second World War.”
The citation noted her devoting “countless hours to caring for the ill and wounded as a Navy Nurse during one of our country’s most tested periods.”
“I think this is marvelous. I sure didn’t expect anything like this,” exclaimed Cole, surrounding by members of the lodge and Navy officials.
For Ingrid Hueneke, a Bremerton native and long-time friend of Cole, the two Nurse Corps officers were icing on the cake for the celebration.
Both are long-time members of Oslo Lodge #35 Sons of Norway, Bremerton, with Cole having joined in 1975. Hueneke took it upon herself to reach out to the City of Bremerton Mayor’s Office for assistance to possibly connect with local Navy officials to help recognize and appreciate the significance of her friend’s birthday.
“She has no local family, and as far as I know, she has one niece who lives out of state. Her Sons of Norway friends have stayed in touch with her and have honored her on her 100th and 101st birthday with flowers and good wishes. Since we have had no contact with anyone in the military, we hoped to have someone from the Navy participate in this small celebration,” related Hueneke, noting that Cole must have made some good friendships in the Norwegian community when she relocated to Bremerton and continued her nursing career.
“She worked tirelessly in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s for the lodge, baking, decorating, serving on the building association, ladies club and much, much more,” continued Hueneke. “We continue to cherish her friendship and membership all these years.”
Cole spent four years on active duty, including providing medical care for the Aleutian Islands Campaign in the early 1940s. In July, 1950, she married Jack Cole who passed away at an early age. She settled in Bremerton and continued her nursing career in a local clinic. She joined the Bremerton Sons of Norway Lodge in 1975. Her early years were spent growing up in Michigan.
“Spent lot of time there. Don’t remember much,” related Cole.
“We’ve been grateful for Anna Marie’s friendship and service all these years. What she has done in her lifetime, especially those years serving in a world war, represents all women everywhere by her dedication. We’re so proud of her,” stated Hueneke.
Along with the letter of commendation from the Navy, Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler also sent birthday greetings and a citation on behalf of the city.
There were cards to open. Several gifts to unwrap, which included a U.S. Navy white service hat. The iconic dixie cup was festooned with the years of her birthday. The colorful chapeau widened the already growing smile on the birthday girl.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” shared Cole. “This has been great. Who’d a thunk it?!”
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