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Sailor 1st class (Ret’d) Kay McGlennon

Kay McGlennon was born in Midland, Ontario. She served with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for a total of 29 years. Her training and service took her across Canada, from Esquimalt to Halifax, and multiple map dots in between. She also served overseas, supporting CAF missions in the Golan Heights and Bosnia. Her story is one of cohesiveness, team work and most importantly – family.

Midland, Ontario


Golan Heights Bosnia




  • Esquimalt, BC
  • North Bay, ON
  • Halifax, NS
  • Winnipeg, MB

Key operational experiences:

  • Golan Heights: 1993
  • Bosnia: 1999-2000

While studying Art and Interior Design at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, McGlennon began pondering a career within the CAF. Though two of her uncles and a great-aunt had served during the Second World War, the thought had never really crossed her mind before then.

“I didn’t know if I would suit the military, or rather, if it would suit me.”

She officially enlisted in December 1973. “I didn’t know if I would suit the military, or rather, if it would suit me.” She trained at CFB Cornwallis where she was part of the first female contingent to have on-site weapon training. “Prior to that, it was just educational with weapons on a table. We were the first women to actually do the training drills and range work.”

Her first posting was at the 1st Canadian Forces Supply Depot, located at Downsview, just outside of Toronto. This is where McGlennon had the opportunity to work with some of the early digital technologies implemented by the CAF. “Downsview was one of three facilities that had the early computer set-up. I worked with a specific technology designed for the supply system.” She also completed some graphic design work. “I actually got to use some of my college experience in the military. When a graphic artist quit without notice, I stepped up and sat in the role for three weeks.”

McGlennon left the CAF briefly after four years of service for the birth of her son, and decided to put her career on hold. “I had the option to continue my career with the CAF, but chose to be there for my son in his early years. And my Sergeant understood.”

When her son was four-and-a-half years old, McGlennon considered joining the CAF again, this time in the reserve force. “But, I got a call within 48 hours asking if I’d return to the regular force.” So she did, this time at CFB Esquimalt, serving there from 1983-1988.

After her time in Esquimalt, McGlennon was posted to CFB North Bay. There, she received the news she would be deployed overseas to assist with CAF efforts in the Golan Heights.

McGlennon served overseas in the Golan Heights for six months in 1993. “I remember landing in Tel Aviv, we boarded the United Nations bus and started the drive up to the Golan Heights. I wondered what it had been like for the first Canadians to be posted there. I looked forward to the challenge – and hoped we could do as well as our predecessors.” Beginning in 1974, Canada’s primary role in the Golan Heights was to provide transportation, supply, maintenance and communications for their fellow United Nations forces. McGlennon was assigned to a receiving dock, and was responsible for organizing shipments coming in and going out. “We had to go through all the custom papers and make sure all was clear.”

McGlennon was deployed overseas a second time in 1999-2000. “While in Bosnia, you had to be open minded and ready for whatever was thrown your way. I had a variety of roles, which included working directly with Bosnian locals in our camp.”

“When serving in Canada, people would often thank us. I remember thinking, ‘you are also Canadian, why wouldn’t we help!?’”

Some of McGlennon’s finest memories from her time with the CAF stem from service on the home-front. She was in Winnipeg in 1997 during the Red River Floods, working on the sand-bag line and providing assistance to locals. Just one year later, she assisted with relief efforts during the 1998 ice storm as a member of the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron. “When serving in Canada, people would often thank us. I remember thinking, ‘you are also Canadian, why wouldn’t we help!?’”

McGlennon retired from the CAF in 2007. As she reflects on her years of service, she can’t help but recall the sense of comradery and cohesiveness. “I was a single parent when I was tasked to go to the Golan Heights. My official message came in at 10 a.m., and I officially accepted the tasking at 11 a.m. I went home for lunch and when I returned, two of my co-workers relayed that they talked with their spouse over the lunch hour and they were willing to look after my son for me.”

Her sister would end up looking after her son while she deployed, but McGlennon will always remember the helping hand from her colleagues.

“I never regretted any of the personal decisions I made throughout my military service. And I am proud to have served.”

With courage, integrity and loyalty, Kay McGlennon has left her mark. She is one of our Canadian Veterans. Discover more stories.

If you a Veteran, family member or caregiver in need of mental health support, the VAC Assistance Service is available to you 24/7, 365 days a year at no cost. Call "1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right now.

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