TRAVERSE CITY — The blood and mud of war is forever etched in the soul and mind of Dorothy Caron.
A veteran who served near the front lines during wartime, the Traverse City woman turned 100 years old on Dec. 26 with a celebration of her life and service to her country as a U.S. Army surgical nurse at the Cherryland Post of the VFW.
Dorothy served in World War II, returned home, and then was called back into service during the Korean War.
For Dorothy, service to country flowed through her family’s bloodline.
Her six brothers all served in the military.
Dorothy — then Dorothy Weber — was just 19 years old when she shipped out to serve in the front-line field hospitals of Southeast Asia.
“Some (memories) were good, some were bad,” she said quite simply, leaving her memories of the Korean War to that succinct statement.
- Her nephew, Dan Weber of Traverse City, said his aunt was not a fan of the movie, or the TV show, “MASH,” because of its blanket humor.
“She was a surgical nurse and said it was just ‘blood and mud,’” he said. “She’d been through a lot, and she had seen a lot. She’s quite a gal, really.”
After growing up in Ecorse and then Kalamazoo, and after serving in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for nearly nine years, including times spent in the Reserves, Dorothy would return to Michigan and continue her work in the medical field.
Her husband Alan served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II as a pilot and was discharged as a squadron master sergeant.
The two married after the war on Dec. 31, 1947, in Seattle, Wash., at Ft. Lawton.
They lived in Peoria, Ill. and Kalamazoo before moving to Leelanau County in 1974 where they were the former owners of the Maple Valley Nursing Home.
“When I was 40 years old, I became a nursing home (nurse) — I loved it,” she said. “I never quit being a nurse but for six months when we adopted a boy.”
Alan, an active community member, golfer and churchgoer, passed away in 2007. He and Dorothy’s son, Marty Caron, died in 2015.
These days, Dorothy finds joy in playing bingo “as I get older — that’s my favorite hobby,” and gardening.
“I used to cut the grass right up until I fell at the end of August and broke my hip,” she said.
She remains a proud veteran, she said.
Auxiliary President and bar manager Vicki Luckey said at her birthday party, when the Honor Guard stood at attention and saluted her, she stood up and saluted them, each and every one of them, one at a time.
“She came in and just had the biggest smile,” said Luckey. “She’s such a sweet person. It was wonderful.”