Anderson, Sarah (Interview transcript and video), 2019



Anderson, Sarah (Interview transcript and video), 2019



Smither, James (Interviewer)


Sarah Anderson was born in 1990 in Muskegon, Michigan, and lived in the same house for her entire childhood. Anderson graduated high school in 2009 and immediately joined the Marine Corps since she disliked the mundane environment of the classroom, was energetic, and saw the positive impact the Corps had upon her brother. During the 9/11 attacks, Anderson was in the fifth grade and remembers being sent home early after hearing of the attacks over the radio, later influencing her decision to join the service. She attended Marine Boot Camp in August of 2009 at Parris Island, South Carolina, where male recruits were separated from female recruits, even though training standards were equal between the sexes. In addition to basic training, recruits were instructed on hand-to-hand combat in the Marine Martial Arts Program and Anderson recalled how all training was meant to break down recruits to build them up again as skilled, devoted, proud soldiers. After Boot Camp, Anderson transferred into Marine Combat Training in Fort Johnson, North Carolina, where she chose her career within the Corps, and then to Fort Meade, Maryland, for her Marine Occupational Specialty schooling in public affairs. She then chose her occupation within the Corps as a Combat Correspondent, or Strategic Communications and Mass Communicator, and described her occupational schooling as greatly constructive due to her greater exposure to the experiences of other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Anderson's first base assignment was in Twentynine Palms, California, where she interviewed Marines before they were deployed to Afghanistan, growing attached to her work and to the stories of these men. When her first four years of service ended, Anderson was encouraged to reenlist by her fellow Marines as well as an underlying dread that she had not seen enough of the Corps or the world. Once reenlisted, she opted to be stationed in bases on Oahu Island, Hawaii, where she continued her media work online and through interviews. She became exposed to working with military personnel of all ranks, urging her to quickly develop proper etiquette for addressing high ranking soldiers and commanders. She also acquired opportunities to work with military personnel from other nations from across the globe, allowing her to see into the military cultures of other countries. Anderson concluded that her work on Oahu taught her the values of working individually, thus independently, and problem solving between the needs of various specializations within the military. Later, she transferred to Darwin, Australia, for Marine Rotational Force Darwin, a unit deployment program, and Talus Mu Saber, a two-week training exercise held every other year between the American and Australian militaries. Anderson became more of a 'brand marketer' than a Combat Correspondent, focusing on both media and public relations through working with major media outlets, social media, and other forms of press coverage. With this new focus, she became more integrated with the history of the Corps in the Second World War, Vietnam, as well as current conflicts. After eight years in the service, Anderson made the difficult decision to leave the Corps in 2016 since she never acquired the deployment opportunities she strived for. From there, she attended Grand Valley State University for a degree in PR, advertising, and photography. She commended her recent academic ventures for teaching her the technical skills that the Corps could not provide her while also commending the Corps for teaching her discipline and responsibility. Reflecting upon her service, Anderson believed she grew tremendously as a person through the Corps by doing her best, especially in the face of subtle, underlying sexism or gender stereotypes. Ultimately, these subtle tensions in gender relations remained constant during her service. She also adhered to the moral and ethical teachings of various mentors and instructors who helped her build a stronger character and skills in leadership.
Pre-Enlistment: (00:00:52:00)
Enlistment/Training: (00:06:30:00)
Service: (00:29:48:00)
Post-Service Life: (01:07:17:00)
Reflections: (01:09:43:00)





Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






Moving Image




Anderson, Sarah, “Anderson, Sarah (Interview transcript and video), 2019,” Digital Collections, accessed June 13, 2024,
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