Dorothee Irwin, one of the last remaining World War II veterans in the Coachella Valley, will be honored on Friday, Nov. 11

CATHEDRAL CITY — Dorothee Irwin, 100, of Palm Springs is a treasured member of an elite group of men and women. She is one of the shrinking number of people who served in World War II.

AMVETS Post 66 and Veterans for Peace will honor Irwin on this Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. at Desert Memorial Park, 31-705 Da Vall Drive in Cathedral City. The award will be presented during the Annual Veterans Day Ceremony that honors all veterans. The ceremony is open to the public.

Irwin grew up in Cambridge. Mass. Two of her brothers also served during World War II. Her father would not sign the form for Irwin to join the Marine Corps until he was convinced, she would not serve on the battlefield like her brothers, according to Tom Swann Hernandez, founder and commander.

Irwin was one of the first women Marines to serve during the war at Camp Pendleton, Calif.  She rose to the rank of Corporal and served between 1943 and 1945. Initially she was the Mess SGT, cooking food. Later she was in charge of the Navy Exchange (PX). She met her husband John at Camp Pendleton. John retired at the rank of Major.

Some 16 million Americans fought in the Second World War but today, their ranks are dwindling. U.S. men and women who fought in the conflict are now in their 90s (some are much older) with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reporting that approximately325,000 remain alive today, a significant decline on the 939,000 alive in 2015.

That is evident right here in the Coachella Valley.

On Dec. 7, 2019, AMVETS Post 66 and Veterans for Peace honored World War II veterans with a special luncheon. Since then, nine have passed. They will also be honored this Veterans Day. Following is a list of those who are now deceased.

  • Leo Gold
  • Clarence Lux, Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Joe Beaver
  • Bernie Rubien, Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Capt. Rusty Burns, Tuskegee Airman
  • Lt. Col. Harlan Q. Leonard, Tuskegee Airman
  • Lt. Col. Bob Friend, Tuskegee Airman
  • Cornell English
  • Mel Frank

Speakers at the Veterans Day Ceremony are:

  • Dr. Vito Imbasciani, Secretary, California Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  • Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton
  • Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Rita Lamb
  • Rancho Mirage City Council Member Iris Smotrich
  • Lee Wilson, Fallen Heroes Project
  • Rabbi David Lazar
  • Cathedral City High School JROTC
  • American Legion Area 5 Vice Commander

Brenda Vosbein will read a special letter from President Joe Biden also will be read.

Imbasciani is the highest-ranking veteran leader in the state and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. He was first appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and was reappointed as the Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Jan. 22, 2020.

The Cathedral City High School JROTC will present colors and Steve Petersen will provide music. There will also be a bugler to play taps and the ceremony will conclude with a memorial flower wreath to honor the fallen.


Editor’s note: Above is a picture of Dorothee with the late Leo Gold when AMVETS Post 66  honored both of them in 2019.

Image Sources

  • Dorothee Irwin: AMVETS Post 66