From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (African American Women Veterans in and from Kentucky)

Cole, Laventa Monzetta Penn Abernathy

(born: March 27, 1916  -  died: May 25, 2004) 

Military Branch

Women's Army Corps

Active Duty Entered

November 4, 1944

Active Duty Exit

September 1946

Exit Rank



Laventa Penn was born the daughter of Cattie May Turner in Ballard County, KY, according to the Kentucky Birth Index in Ancestry. Her father was Ash Penn. Laventa's parents were both living in Blandville, KY when they married on May 2, 1908 in Paducah, KY. Ash Penn died in 1920. In the 1930 U.S. Census, Laventa [Penn] Abernathy was listed as the daughter of Anderson and Lula Abernathy in Freeport, IL.

In 1942, Laventa Penn was working at the Savanna Ordnance Depot when she was one of 14 employee representatives to receive the "E" award on behalf of all employees. Laventa Penn lived in Freeport when she enlisted in the Army in Chicago, IL in 1944, according to her record in the National Archives, Access to Archival Databases. She completed her basic training at Fort Des Moines, IA, completing her term in the WAC and discharged in September of 1946. Laventa Penn then returned to Freeport and in 1953 was married and employed as a nurse's aide. In 1958, she was listed as a nurse in the city directory. Laventa M. Penn Abernathy Cole died in 2004 and she is buried in the Freeport Cemetery.

Sources: See Sgt Laventa M. "Penny" Cole at Find A Grave; Kentucky County Marriage Records in Ancestry; Ash Penn executors Administrator's Bond, vol. A-D, p. 118 in Ancestry; "Savanna Ordnance Depot will be given E Award," Daily Dispatch, 10/3/1942, p. 19; "Four enlistments in WAC announced by Corporal Quinn," The Freeport Journal-Standard, 11/28/1944, p. 4; "News about persons in armed services," Freeport Journal-Standard, 9/26/1946, p. 6; Polk's Freeport (Stephenson County, ILL.) City Directory, 1958, pp. 77 & 206.

*The E Award was presented to companies that achieved Excellence in Production of war equipment during World War II. See Army-Navy E Award at the Naval History and Heritage Command website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Ballard County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Blandville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Cole, Laventa Monzetta Penn Abernathy,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-15 15:29:12