Women\'s History Month: Women Marines at Henderson Hall
Marine Sergeant Zanetta Prudy (left) and Sgt. Clarabelle Sanders (right) take time to pose for a photo in 1944. At this time, Henderson Hall was the largest all-women reserve base in the Corps with more than 2,500 women stationed in the D.C. area.

On February 28, 2011, President Obama's proclamation reaffirmed March as Women's History Month. According to The National Women's History Project, the theme for the 2011 Women's History Month has been "Our History is Our Strength," paying tribute to women's courage, creativity and determination.

Henderson Hall's history is also its strength. A little known fact about Henderson Hall, now part of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is it once housed 2,568 women Marine Reservists. With the rapid expansion of the Marine Corps in World War II, and the move of Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps to the Navy Annex Building on Nov. 10, 1941, a Headquarters and Service Company was organized March 1, 1942 to support the personnel of Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

Subsequent revisions and unit reorganization occurred with the designation of a Headquarters Battalion on April 1, 1943.

A second Headquarters Battalion consisting of Women Marine Reservists was organized in July 7, 1943.

Two months later, the post of Henderson Hall provided quarters for the Women Marines who staffed Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC).

Lt. Gen. Thomas Holcomb, the USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1943, said it best, "They [Women Marines] don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines."

It was not until August 1946 that the release of a substantial number of women Marines made Henderson Hall barracks available for the billeting of male Marines.

Now Marines of both genders work at Henderson Hall. The Headquarters Battalion consists of three companies: Alpha Co., Bravo Co. and the Headquarters Co.

Today Capt. Jennifer Raymond is the company commander of Headquarters Company at Henderson Hall, a position she's held for the last three years.

The Women Marine Reservists at Henderson Hall in 1943 provided the foundation for her to lead.

"As a company officer I carry myself with the same pride and high standards as any other Marine officer," Raymond said.

"I go by my orders and I use good judgment. I need to conduct myself in the highest way, and being a woman here [at Henderson Hall] doesn't flavor my experience as a Marine," she said.

"I have never had any issues concerning gender."

Because of the legacy of the past, the Marine Corps has women who exceed service standards. At Henderson Hall, women like Cpl. Sonja Grigsby, a company administrative clerk who was recently awarded Marine of the Quarter for the second time, pay tribute to the women who served before her.

Other notable Marines from Alpha company include: Maj. Monica C. Mellons, deputy director of Protocol Directorate at the Office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps; Maj. Katrina D. Patillo, administrative officer for Lt. Gen. Willie Williams, the director of Marine Corps Staff; Col. Adrienne Fraser-Darling, commander of camps Foster and Lester in Okinawa, Japan, who oversaw the Marine Corps' only unit that trains female recruits at Parris Island; and Col. Rose Favors, chief defense counsel of the Marine Corps, HQMC to the commandant.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16