Coming from a large family (nine siblings) and having four brothers in military service, it seemed like a normal decision for Ila to want to join the WAVES at the age of twenty. She grew up in a small town in Iowa and had a nice life, despite growing up during the Great Depression. Her first time out of Iowa was when she enlisted. She embraced the adventure and opportunity to serve her country.
The WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services) offered many different jobs for women. This particular time period (WWII) provided many opportunities for women. Ila’s service was very important to her and she has a sense of great pride in doing her part. This has given her an attachment to service people of all generations. The Navy treated her well and the Veterans Administration has been helpful and important in her life.
Ila’s discussion of her life and times in the service is an easy listen. Her voice is strong and calm and takes one back to another era.
On November 16, 2012, Providence Point retirement community in the South Hills of Pittsburgh opened their doors to Veteran Voices and allowed us to set up all-day interviews in its art studio. We conducted several interviews that day, included one with Ila Cole, a Navy WAVE who lives near Providence Point in Scott Township. She gathered up photos and other memorabilia and shared her story, thought admitting to feeling nervous about it. We thank Ila and Providence Point for helping to make it a great interview day.
Stories from the Veterans Breakfast Club
Ila Cole’s written stories