She is a decorated member of the Women's Army Corps who served overseas in World War II and will celebrate her 100th birthday at home in Michigan.

After a long reluctance to get entangled, the United States of America answered the bell after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. More than sixteen million patriots served in the United States Armed Forces, with 405,399 making the ultimate sacrifice. Not all of these soldiers were men.

Women had served as nurses in the military, and U.S. Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts believed that they could contribute in other non-combat positions. Rogers introduced a bill in May of 1941 to establish the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. It was ignored until the end of the year.

The law that established the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) gave its members, called Waacs, an official status and a salary but few of the benefits granted to male soldiers. In July 1943, after thousands of women had enlisted, the U.S. Army dropped the “auxiliary” designation, and from that time on members of the Women’s Army Corps received full U.S. Army benefits. Sixteen thousand women who had joined as Waacs were belatedly granted veterans’ benefits in 1980.

Evelyn Yonka enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on September 1, 1943 in her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. She trained as a teletype operator at the Separation Center in Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. Evelyn would serve in Naples-Foggia and Rome-Arno during WWII, and earned the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with three Bronze Battle Stars, WAAC Service Ribbon, an Overseas Service bar and a Good Conduct Medal.

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Evelyn completed her service and separated from the army in September of 1945. On May 31, 2021, the last surviving member of her WAAC HQ Platoon 12 AF unit from WWII will celebrate her 100th birthday at her home in Shelby Township, Michigan.

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h/t Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

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