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Turner.jpg (27038 bytes)This Marine has been bringing Christmas joy to children for more than half a century

(Reprint from the Rockdale GA Citizen, December 24, 2003)

CONYERS — For the past 51 years, Conyers resident Dorothy Turner has brought Christmas joy to children throughout the nation as an individual contributor to the Toys for Tots collection by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).

“I've taken them toy trucks, cars, stuffed animals, keyboards, anything I think they may like. Anything that would bring joy,” says Turner, who is a former Marine and has kept a faithful service to the corps and children each year since 1952.

According to Turner, the toys are distributed by the Marines to children nationwide.

This year, Turner's son, Dan Turner, and a local Marine, Tom Golden, arranged to drive Turner with a trunkload of toys and batteries (Turner is known to never forget the batteries) to the Marietta USMC Toys for Tots collection site.

For her years of faithful service, Turner was given a certificate of appreciation and was invited to a Wrap Up Party for the Marines who participated in this season's toy charity.

Turner really wasn't seeking any recognition for her contributions. She hasn't read the certificate and didn't want to be interviewed by any newspaper. “All of this (publicity) is my son's doing,” says Turner, who gets her greatest satisfaction from the joy she knows she brings to the hearts of kids.

For half a century Turner has reliably made trips to various Marine recruiting sites where she gets the staff on duty to snap to and unload her vehicle, which they gratefully do given her position as what the Marines affectionately call an “advanced” Marine, someone who has served the corps and retired.

Turner retired from the corps in 1945. While in the corps, she served stateside during a time when women weren't allowed to carry weapons. World War II was reason enough for her to join, she says.

“The Navy, Army and Air Force all had women, but I could only see myself as a Marine,” she says.

As a Marine, Turner was given a “female” occupation. Her official military title included plumber and welder, and she worked on aircraft parts and repair.
“I did maintenance,” she says.

She did it well enough to earn a Good Conduct Medal before she retired.

She later became a Marine “Gold Star” parent when she lost her oldest son, USMC Pfc. Michael Barry Turner, during the Tet Offensive of Vietnam. He died during the battle for Hue City in February 1968.

Though she's not a member, Turner supports the Women Marines Association, and, like her son Dan, is a life member of the Guadalcanal Veterans Campaign Society. She's also a supporter of the Memorial for Women in Service designed in Washington D.C., according to her son.
For the past eight years Turner has lived in Conyers with Dan and his wife.

Rumor has it that around Conyers, Turner is known as “The Colonel” because she's so tough.

Somewhere, on Christmas Day, a kid will reach under his tree, pull out a gift and know The Colonel also has a warm heart. And that's the way Christmas has been for 51 consecutive years.