JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 23, 2021) -- The career of a contract specialist at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, culminates at the end of this month more than 50 years after answering the nation’s pioneering call for women to serve as part of the U.S. Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
Eleanor “Ellie” Hall, 84, volunteered at age 18 in 1955 to serve with the Navy WAVES for four years before a short break to raise children and eventually return for a lifelong career in the service of her nation. Hall’s combined active service with the Navy and civil service comprise 53 years.
“I was the eldest of six children. My father died when I was 16. We didn’t have money for me to go to college. We were poor,” the Hartford, Connecticut, native said. “The Navy offered me the opportunity to do something with my life. I grew up during the Second World War and often watched the military parades. I always admired the military women marching.”
The WAVES was established as the U.S. Naval Reserve women’s branch in July 1942 to free up male Sailors and officers stationed ashore for sea duty seven months after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed declarations of war against Japan, Germany and Italy, and as many of the world’s nations were engulfed in World War II. Following the war and demobilization of the WAVES, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948 paved the way for women to serve in the regular Navy. The term WAVES continued in usage for Navy women until the 1970s.
A graduate of Hartford Public High School, Hall explained that she primarily performed secretarial work while on active duty, relying predominantly on the typewriter and shorthand. Hall met her husband, John, with four months remaining on her four year-enlistment. She an E-5 and him an E-6, it was only a few months before they would enter into marriage, which lasted for 52 years before his passing and burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Her husband spent 37 years in service to his nation and rose to the rank of Navy captain.
“I left the Navy after completing my four-year enlistment, following my husband to his different duty stations and to raise a family. We adopted our first daughter after five years of marriage,” she said. “I returned to work after our youngest daughter started kindergarten. I love the military and working in the federal service, which provided me the opportunity to continue supporting the military.”
Upon joining the Civil Service, she said many of the duties performed by females centered primarily on typing and stenography. Her interest in contracting didn’t come about until she began college coursework at night, which was related to acquisitions and taught by military officers. She would go on to earn an associate’s degree in general studies and a bachelor’s of individualized study from George Mason University. She also earned her Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III certification in contracting in 2000.
After firmly establishing a federal career, she transferred to the Army to take advantage of a promotion opportunity.
“I enjoy directly working with the military. I have the upmost respect for the military who often put their own lives at risk to protect our freedom,” she said. “I am thankful to support them in any capacity. It has been a real honor.”
Today, she serves as MICC-Fort Belvoir’s Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System focal point. Defense Department policy requires use of the CPARS web-based tool to capture contractors’ past performance for use in making contract award decisions that directly support Soldiers and their families.
“Having Ms. Hall in our office has been a joy. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. It has been great hearing her stories of the changes throughout the years and also hearing about her days in the NAVY Waves,” said Lt. Col. Haneda Garner, director of MICC-Fort Belvoir. “She is a leader, teacher and subject matter expert. Her accomplishments within her 53-year career deserve the meritorious recognition. Her career is the definition of our motto, ‘Making an Impact.’ Ms. Hall has definitely made an impact during her time at Belvoir.”
That impact includes sage, but simple advice by the contracting professional.
“Find a job that you enjoy and people that you enjoy working with,” Hall said. “Work hard. Be honest. Do the job right.”
After the nation moves past COVID concerns, Hall plans to spend more time with her three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in retirement. Having been to three Washington Nationals World Series games, she will also continue her love for baseball, and she will dedicate more time to her animals, particularly Dachshunds, crossword puzzles and weekly visits to the local farmers market. Her final day with the MICC is Sept. 30.
About the MICC
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.