VILSECK, Germany – Different barriers and ceilings are broken every day, but these women do not see it as extraordinary. Both women see it as an opportunity to serve their country, as U.S Army noncommissioned officers.
“The recruiter said females could be in combat, and I wanted to make a difference,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jennifer Ponce, assigned to the Field Artillery Squadron, 2d Calvary Regiment. “I knew I could do it, and I don’t regret it. I love this job.”
Ponce is currently serving as the first female howitzer crew section chief in Bulldog Battery, Field Artillery Squadron, 2CR.
Ponce’s dream was to be assigned to Germany, as one of the U.S. Army’s first female cannon crew members where she earned the opportunity to become a howitzer section chief.
“This has always been a goal of mine,” said Ponce.
Now, she is here ready to make a difference. She does not view herself as breaking through the glass ceiling. She is a noncommissioned officer first, wanting to make a difference in people’s lives.
“I want to make a difference even if it is just for one Soldier,” said Ponce. “I will help anyone I come in contact with, even if it is just a simple conversation. I am here to help change someone’s life.”
“When I joined, it seemed like a great opportunity when the option of Field Artillery opened for me,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Kelley T. Chilauskas, also assigned to the Field Artillery Squadron, 2CR.
Chilauskas currently serves as the first female fire direction section chief in Bulldog Battery.
Both Ponce and Chilauskas served with Bulldog Battery during their enhanced Forward Presence rotation as part of Battle Group-Poland. Chilauskas worked with British Armed Forces during this forward deployment.
She worked with them on how American Forces conducted fire commands and demonstrated the differences between how British Forces process fire missions versus U.S. Forces.
“I want to have a positive impact on my unit and continue opening doors for others,” said Chilauskas about what is next for her.
She works hard to ensure everyone around her is lifted up and continues to improve themselves.
“I am glad the unit is having more conversations now about female centered issues,” said Chilauskas.
The Field Artillery Squadron conducted a Culture Forum where female centered issues were discussed and aimed at improving the culture and effectiveness of the entire squadron.
On reflecting upon what was discussed, Ponce said, “Do not let other people affect how you are and how you act as a Soldier. Do your job and do not let what other people say bother you.”
As they continue to grow as leaders in the organization, they are shouldering the responsibilities usually reserved for senior leaders as role models for younger females in the combat arm roles.
Younger Soldiers finally have something to strive for, and as both Ponce and Chilauskas said, “I am just doing my job.”
For more Women’s History Month content, please visit the 2CR Facebook page and website.