Local woman retires from USMC, 1 of 4 black women to be colonel | DaytonDailyNews.com

By Julian Jeter-Davis, Staff Writer 6:54 PM Saturday, September 4, 2010

DAYTON — The United States Marine Corps gave Col. Gail Jennings an opportunity to excel.

And excel she did.

Jennings is one of only four black women who have the rank of colonel in the history of the U.S. Marines. This summer, Colonel Jennings retired after 34 years of service to the country.

“My Aunt Allice was a big influence on me when I was a small child,” Jennings said. “She was very business minded, and I knew I wanted to be like that. She was quite an inspiration.”

As she finished high school, Jennings began to think about the military.

“I was 17 or 18 when it first crossed my mind,” she said, “but it was not until my sophomore year in college when I got serious about it.”

Jennings is a 1973 graduate of John H. Patterson Cooperative High School and a 1977 graduate of the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in education. She also was captain of the volleyball team at UD and was inducted into the UD Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.

“I learned a lot about leadership playing volleyball,” Jennings said. “It requires you to rally the team … That leadership transitioned into the military.”

Jennings added that UD was “one of the best developmental things in my life.”

Jennings entered the Marines after graduating college in May of 1977 as a second lieutenant…Read more Here

Col. Jennings’ inspirational message:

Happiness — that is the true measure of success. For me that was a life of service, not just to the military but to people as a whole. Be your best, share the most and wish the best for others — that will translate into a meaningful and successful life endeavor, regardless of career choice.

It is important to be goal-oriented — to have a vision and purpose to help direct your path.

Know that all things are achievable but make yourself accountable for applying the necessary drive and effort to reach your goal(s).

Know that others before you (especially women in particular) have probably traveled a similar path so don’t be afraid, too proud, etc. to tap into that wealth of knowledge and experience, some of which may be unique based on the mere fact that they are women.

Just as others are there and willing to open doors for you, be willing to give back as well. Reach back and pull up or provide a leg up for others. Where you can influence, do. There are a multitude of ordinary people who have done extraordinary things without plan or intent. Always remember “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”