“A tremendous tribute.” – Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara, Coast Guard Vice Commandant
The massive, brand new 418-foot cutter provides surprisingly little shade on the hot and sunny pier in Pascagoula, Miss., where the Coast Guard’s most influential female leaders from past and present gather to remember, honor and celebrate the legacy of Capt. Dorothy Constance Stratton and the SPARs the day before First Lady Michelle Obama christens the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton.
Several of the 24 SPARs proudly dressed in a uniform resembling the one they wore during World War II more than 65 years ago… a crisp white button-down shirt, carefully tied black ascot, neatly pressed slacks and a garrison cover pinned with the Coast Guard shield.
Joined by the family members and guests, their laughs can be heard across the room and their smiles illuminate with each passing peer.
All of them gather here for one purpose – to take part in the naming of the newest Coast Guard cutter after their leader and friend, Capt. Stratton.
“Dorothy Stratton was a trailblazer,” said Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara. “Her legacy, which is represented by all the SPARs who are with us, is enduring.”
“Dorothy Stratton was a leader, bringing women into the service,” said Capt. Bruce Baffer, the Stratton’s prospective commanding officer. “[The christening] is a celebration of how far women have come in the Coast Guard. There are no jobs they can’t do.”
“[Dorothy Stratton] was really a women ahead of her time. When you think of all the leadership positions she had not just in the Coast Guard but as dean the of women at Purdue and the executive director of the Girl Scouts,” said Melinda Cook, Dorothy’s great niece and one of eleven family members that traveled from the west coast to be at this week’s events.
“This event is a culmination of Dorothy Stratton’s achievements and to what she did as a career women in the military before and after her service. The scale of this event really matches her achievements and we are just honored to be a part of it,” said Kelly Cook, Melinda’s husband.
“Its quite an honor for the family,” said Barbara Stratton Myers, Dorothy’s niece. “I don’t think that in her lifetime she thought this would happen. Number one that [the ship] would be named after a female, and number two that it would be named after her.”
“Aunt Dorothy would be extremely humbled and would down play everything,” added her nephew, Rick Stratton. She would question what all the fuss was about, he said.
She may be modest but the “fuss” is well deserved recognition helping to remind every Coast Guardsman that steps aboard the ship for many years to come of her memory and accomplishments.
Thank-you Capt. Stratton for your service. Thank-you to her family members and fellow SPARs for being here to help the Coast Guard celebrate this special occasion.