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Pioneering Female Spy Doris Bohrer Dies at 93

Bohrer served in Italy with the OSS and was featured in a 2013 NBC News story about women in the CIA.
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A 2013 photo of Fran Moore (left), director of intelligence for the CIA, with Doris Bohrer.John Makely / NBC News

A sisterhood of spies

Nov. 14, 201305:00

A pioneering female spy who was featured in an NBC News story about women in the CIA has passed away at age 93.

Doris Bohrer served in Italy during World War II as an agent for the OSS, the spy agency that later morphed into the CIA.

“We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of Doris Bohrer," said an agency spokesperson. "Her many achievements and storied life are an inspiration to all and particularly so to those of us at CIA.”

Click Here to Read About Doris Bohrer and Betty McIntosh: "Don't Call Us Girls"

Bohrer's son Jason said that with the passing of his mother, "our country is one step closer to losing the remainder of the Greatest Generation. Without regard for their own needs or personal safety, they did what was necessary and right to protect us."

"As a country we need to remember to be thankful for their service and sacrifice," said Bohrer. "Please take time to seek out these individuals in your communities and thank them for their service.

"Thanks for your example Mom, we will miss you.”

Doris Bohrer during the 1940's as an operative with the OSS.Doris Bohrer

Growing up in Maryland, Doris Bohrer’s dream was to be a pilot, but after taking the civil service exam she settled for typist when the OSS called. Soon she’d been dispatched to the Adriatic coast to analyze aerial photographs of concentration camps and plan troop drops. She was 21.

“It was like looking at the world with a magnifying glass,” she said. “It was a little challenge trying to figure out what the Germans were doing, where they were sending the railroad cars, what they were picking up, what they were manufacturing in the factories, how many airplanes were on the air fields.”

The analysts also wanted to confirm suspicions that the Nazis were shipping civilians to concentration camps. “We were trying to find them, and we did,” said Bohrer. “But there wasn't anything we could do about it.”

Sisterhood at the CIA

Nov. 15, 201302:54

In 2013, Bohrer told NBC News how she and other women in the clandestine service were treated at the time.

“Everybody else was ‘Lieutenant So-and-So,’ or ‘Captain This,’” said Bohrer. “We were ‘The Girls.’ … I was doing the exact same thing as majors and lieutenant colonels, but I was ‘The Girls.’”

Click Here to Read Sisterhood of Spies: Women Crack the Code at the CIA

Things have changed. As recently as the early 1990s, there were no women in the upper ranks of the CIA. Now an agency that once oozed machismo is almost half female, and a majority of its top officials are women. One group of agency women -- the powerful band who tracked Osama bin Laden to his hideout -- became known as “the Sisterhood.”

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Some of the women of the CIA, including two who also served in the agency's World War II precursor, the OSS: (Back row, left to right: Gabriella (last name withheld by request), Fran Moore, Sue Gordon and Ashley (last name withheld by request); (seated, left to right) Elizabeth "Betty" McIntosh, Doris Bohrer on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013.John Makely / NBC News