FORT KNOX, Ky. — They came from all across the United States during World War II, each with goals and dreams: and plans for life after the Army.When the hundred or more Black women who had joined the Women’s Army Corps began arriving at Fort Knox starting in July 1943, few knew their collective experiences within an all-Black WAC section of 1550th Service Unit at Godman Airfield would eventually span beyond racial boundaries to help guide the nation on a path toward racial equality.But they hoped it would. One of them was Vera Harrison.Born in Sadieville, Kentucky north of Lexington and 120 miles away from Fort Knox, Harrison would later return to Kentucky as a commissioned officer in the Army to command the section.“This is the greatest opportunity for colored women in America to contribute to the war effort. Here they can show just how well women can soldier when their country’s honor is at stake,” said a 2nd Lt. Harrison, in a Pittsburgh Courier article dated Nov. 28, 1942. “I would like to see more of them in the service …”Just three months prior, on Aug. 28, Harrison stood among 38 other Black women as part of the first Black female graduating class of the Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. She found herself stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, afterward— the first Black female Soldier to pass through the gates.Nearly two years later, Harrison was transferred to Fort Knox.According to a Jan. 22, 1944, edition of the Pittsburgh Courier — a Black newspaper for which Harrison had submitted articles when she was a teenager — women were being sent to Fort Knox to take on several jobs that formerly had been assigned to men. These included drivers, cooks, maintenance operators, secretaries, service club assistants and postal clerks.Many of the women had joined to serve their nation while others had been drafted.“Here at Fort Knox the [Black] WAC component of the 1550th Service Unit is giving a good account of itself,” wrote Pfc. Bessie Holloway, author of the article.“This may be a man’s world, but the women of the Women’s Army Corps, imbued with the spirit that dominated the lives of other American women who have fought side by side with their men in other ways, will go down in history as pioneers, and part and parcel of one of the greatest experiments ever made …” Holloway concluded, “vigilant, courageous women who know that if this is to remain ‘the land of the free,’ America must win.”During and after the war, the Godman Field Beacon newspaper at Fort Knox’s airfield served as a voice for these women, publishing their activities and thoughts on a range of topics.Some of those thoughts included what they considered to be their proudest day in the Army.“It’s only rightly so that I should be proud of being on Godman Field … But the happiest moment of my Army career is yet to arrive,” said Pvt. Beatrice Walker, Squadron A, 118th Army Air Force Base Unit, in a Nov. 12, 1945 edition of the newspaper. “I’ll never forget when I was in Clerk School in Des Moines, and my morale had just about struck rock-bottom … Mrs. Mary Bethune visited our post at the time … I don’t think I’ll ever forget her encouraging and inspiring lecture … it was better than any ‘Tonic.’”Many women from among the all-Black WACs admired Dr. Bethune as a pioneering educator, stateswoman and philanthropist. Bethune had earned college degrees at Barber Scotia College in 1893 and Moody Bible Institute in 1895, leading her to establish, and later merge, her own college into what is known today as Bethune-Cookman University.It was Bethune’s work as a Black leader and source of encouragement that led to many of these women joining the ranks of the Black WACs in the first place.Some Soldiers shared carefully measured opinions on racism and discrimination in the page of the Godman newspaper.“Judging other people is an outstanding social problem, a large number of books have been devoted to it,” said Pfc. Louise Barnes, of Squadron A, 118th AAF Base Unit. “Since I am only an infinitesimal speck in this great Universe, I do not consider myself a judge of others.“There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that hardly behooves any of us to judge the rest of us.”The female Soldiers attended many fun events while stationed at Fort Knox, like the Derby Bowl — a Tennessee-Kentucky football rivalry that, in 1945, pitted the all-Black Godman Bombers against the Tennessee State College Tigers — and music concerts at the service club, where they would have danced to the music of famous artists Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.Black WAC Soldiers like 2nd Lt. Alta Sims and Sgt. Martha Bell, both of Squadron A, Air Force Corps, expressed a desire in 1945 to reenlist in the Army Air Forces because, according to Sims, “I feel that women in uniform have more opportunities to utilize their trained skills in this branch. There are also new types of jobs that provide new fields of occupation upon release to civilian life.”Others dreamed of pursuing college degrees after they left the Army.“I think education is the most important part because the service men and women who, due to financial difficulties, were able to complete their education before the war, will be in a position to do so with the financial aid of the GI Bill of Rights,” said Pvt. June Gay in an Oct. 15, 1945 edition of the Godman Field Beacon.Private Lillian Beslow also planned to pursue higher education.“In my estimation the educational part is most beneficial. It will enable you to complete the education you started before entering the Service and to prepare you for the skilled jobs that await you upon release from the Service,” said Beslow. “I plan to take up where I left off with my education.”“I plan to complete my education at Brooklyn College and to study voice. That is, if my strength holds out,” said Pvt. Elise Hawkins, of Squadron A, 118th AAFB, in the Oct. 28, 1945 edition. “I’m not too well, but at any rate, I’ll go back to school as long as I can. I think all young people should consider going to school to further their education.”Harrison did just that, but not before again making history — this time in 1945.She deployed, along with 816 other women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, as commander of Company C, stationed first in England, and later in France: the only Black WAC unit to serve overseas.After the war, Harrison resigned her commission to pursue a Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Social Work, later becoming an educator, counselor and more. According to her obituary in the Journal-News, Harrison loved the career path she had chosen, a path that started with her decision to accept a commission in the Army in August 1942.“Her humble spirit and generous heart left an indelible mark on the lives of all who had an opportunity to know her.”