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    HRC highlights veteran employee on Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Anniversary

    HRC highlights veteran employee on Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Anniversary

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class LaTonya Kelly | Susan Kilianski stands underneath the sign at the Fort Knox Kilianski Sports Complex....... read more read more

    FORT KNOX, KY, UNITED STATES

    05.15.2021

    Story by Sgt. 1st Class LaTonya Kelly 

    U.S. Army Human Resources Command

    The U.S. Army Human Resources Command recognizes a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during the 79th Anniversary of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on May 15, 2021.

    Susan Kilianski, HRC Government Release Specialist and U.S. Army retired Sgt. 1st Class, shares her journey in the WAC as a 71H, personnel specialist when she enlisted in July 1973.

    On May 15, 1942, congress established a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) but did not grant its members military status. The WAAC was converted to the WAC on July 1, 1943 and Kilianski joined 30 years later.

    “I took advantage of one of the best opportunities by joining the Women’s Army Corps,” said Kilianski.

    Prior to joining the WAC, Kilianski worked in women’s retail in Petrolia, Pennsylvania, making $1.63 per hour until a coworker encouraged her to leave and embark on new opportunities.

    “I hitchhiked to the recruiting station and one week later after taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and oath of enlistment, I started training at the only Basic Combat Training (BCT) facility for women at Fort McClellan in Alabama," said Kilianski.

    The former WAC veteran shares how women sacrificed a lot to join the ranks and oftentimes administratively separated if becoming pregnant.

    “The WAC did not have maternity uniforms to issue and some women were discouraged to raise families while serving in the mid twentieth century,” said Kilianski.

    Many women were proud to serve their country in a patriotic way and served in occupations such as clerical specialists, cooks, telephone operators and medical care professionals.

    Kilianski kept the same military occupation specialty as 71H for 20 years even when the WAC was disbanded in 1978 and all units were integrated with male units within the U.S. Army.

    “I wanted to join to be a medical care professional but no openings were available,” stated Kilianski. “I was able to transfer without reclassifying.”

    She met her husband, former Sgt. Maj. Richard (Rick) C. Kilianski while stationed in Mainz, Germany for 39 months. They got married on October 23, 1978 and had a daughter named Stefanie.

    The Fort Knox Kilianski Sports Complex was dedicated in her husband’s memory in 1993.

    He served as the Brigade Operations Sergeant Major for the 1st Armor Training Brigade during his last assignment at Fort Knox, KY.

    “My husband passed away on May 2, 1992 and I will always remember the legacy he left behind as well as his devotedness to Soldiers,” stated Kilianski.

    Kilianski reflects on her military career and how she was privileged to receive the same pay, rank, and benefits as male Soldiers.

    “My pay increased to $307 dollars per month as a Pvt. in 1973 and it’s an honor to see how the roles of women in the military continue to flourish and evolve,” said Kilianski.

    The 79th Anniversary of the WAAC serve as a historical reminder of the changes implemented for the WAC and women who proudly serve in the U.S. Army today.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.15.2021
    Date Posted: 05.15.2021 19:49
    Story ID: 396537
    Location: FORT KNOX, KY, US 

    Web Views: 409
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN