Ila Cole was born March 5, 1923 in Nora Springs, Iowa. She grew up in town there in a large family with eight siblings; Ila worked a number of jobs and she graduated from high school with algebra and shorthand as her favorite subjects. She went on to business college, and worked for a time at Better Homes and Gardens. The war began on December 7, 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and Ila chose to enlist in the WAVES. She went to Hunter College in New York City for basic training, where she learned to march and to do all the navy expected of her. The war was winding down by this point, and Ila was assigned to San Francisco at this time. While there she took on duties connected to Naval Air Transport Command, and she began doing flights – usually back and forth to Honolulu, where she would assist in the transportation of families and service personnel. Ila was able to see a lot of the country during this time, and that included meeting her future husband, Jimmy. He had been in the navy during the war, and the two of them would settle in the Pittsburgh area, where they would raise their son and play their part in postwar America.
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