PWTM: Fort McNair/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall

One of the most challenging aspects of the military spouse life is preparing for an upcoming PCS or, if you get the chance, potentially picking a new duty station. There is a lot of information out there, and it can be almost overwhelming.

We here at Army Wife Network want to take some of the guesswork out of the need-to-knows about duty stations around the globe. Hence, our POST WITH THE MOST SERIES. In this particular blog, we will be showcasing information related to Fort McNair/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is a base of the United States military that is located in Virginia. It is made up of Fort Myer, Fort McNair, and Henderson Hall. It was created in 2005 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. It is commanded by the United States Army. Henderson Hall is situated on Southgate Road on the southern border of Arlington National Cemetery, next door to the Army’s Fort Myer.


 The United States Army Military District of Washington (MDW) is one of nineteen major commands of the United States Army. Its headquarters is located at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C. The missions of the units in the MDW include ceremonial tasks as well as a combat role in the defense of the National Capital Region.

Besides Fort McNair, the following installations are included under the umbrella of the MDW’s command:

Units assigned to the Military District of Washington include:

  • 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)
  • 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)
  • 12th Aviation Battalion, Davison Army Airfield, Fort Belvoir, includes the 911th Engineer Company
  • The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”
  • The National Defense University (War College)

The Military District of Washington also represents the U.S. Army in the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR), as well as oversight of all ceremonial operations in Arlington National Cemetery.

Surrounding Cities: 

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Arlington, Virginia
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Bethesda, Maryland
  • Frederick, Maryland
  • Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Reston, Virginia
  • Rockville, Maryland
  • Silver Spring, Maryland

Closest MAJOR City: Washington, DC

Area Colleges:

Washington DC



Weather: In Washington, D.C., the summers are warm and muggy, the winters are very cold. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 29°F to 88°F and is rarely below 17°F or above 96°F.

Time Zone:  Eastern Time Zone


Post Website JBMHH  – click here

Map of the Area – click here

Historical Facts/Landmarks:

Fort McNair

Fort Lesley J. McNair, DC has been an Army post for more than 200 years, third only to West Point and Carlisle Barracks in length of service. The military reservation was established in 1791 on about 28 acres of what then was called Greenleaf Point. Maj. Pierre C. L’Enfant included it in his plans for Washington as a major site for the defense of the capital.

Land was purchased north of the arsenal in 1826 for the first federal penitentiary. The conspirators accused of assassinating President Abraham Lincoln were imprisoned and, after being found guilty, four of the conspirators were hanged and the rest received prison sentences. Among those hanged was Mary Surratt, the first woman ever executed under federal orders. A hospital was built next to the penitentiary in 1857, and Civil War wounded were treated at what then was called the Washington Arsenal. The arsenal was closed in 1881, and the post transferred to the Quartermaster Corps.

A general hospital, predecessor to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, was located at the post from 1898 until 1909. Maj. Walter Reed found the area’s marshlands an excellent site for his research on malaria. Reed’s work contributed to the discovery of the cause of yellow fever. The post dispensary and the visiting officers’ quarters now occupy the buildings where Reed worked and died.

The post was renamed in 1948 to honor Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, commander of Army ground forces during World War II, who was headquartered at the post and killed in Normandy, France, July 25, 1944. Fort McNair has been the headquarters of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington since 1966.

Fort Myer

Fort Myer, Virginia, traces its origin as a military post to the Civil War. Since then, it has been an important Signal Corps post, a showcase for Army cavalry, and the site of the first flight of an aircraft at a military installation and the first military air fatality.

The acres encompassing Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery were called Arlington Heights when they were owned in the 1800s by Mary Anna Randolph, granddaughter of George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was Martha Washington’s grandson. Mary Anna Randolph married Robert E. Lee when he was a young Army lieutenant. Lee helped rescue the estate from financial disaster in 1858, left the area in April 1861 to lead the Confederate Army, never to return.

The land was confiscated by the government for military purposes when the Lees were unable to pay their property taxes in person. Part of the estate became Arlington National Cemetery and the remainder Fort Whipple, a precursor to Fort Myer.

The fledgling post’s high elevation made it ideal for visual communication, and the Signal Corps took it over in the late 1860s. Brig. Gen. Albert J. Myer commanded Fort Whipple and, in 1866, was appointed the Army’s first chief signal officer, a post he held until his death in 1880. The post was renamed Fort Myer the next year, primarily to honor the late chief signal officer, but also to eliminate confusion created by the existence of another Fort Whipple in Arizona.

In 1887, Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, the Army’s commanding general, decided Fort Myer should become the nation’s cavalry showplace. Communications people moved out and cavalrymen moved in, including the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, supported by the 16th Field Artillery Regiment. As many as 1,500 horses were stabled at the fort during any given time from 1887 to 1949, and Army horsemanship became an important part of Washington’s official and social life.

Most of the buildings at the north end of Fort Myer were built between 1895 and 1908. Many of those still standing have been designated historic landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the state of Virginia. Quarters One was completed in 1899 as the post commander’s house, but since 1908, it has been the home of Army chiefs of staff, including Generals George C. Marshall, Omar N. Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The first military test flight of an aircraft was made from the Fort Myer parade ground on Sept. 9, 1908, when Orville Wright kept one of his planes in the air for a minute and 11 seconds. The second test flight ended in tragedy when, after four minutes aloft, the aircraft crashed. Wright was severely cut and bruised, and a passenger, Lt. Thomas Selfridge, became the first powered aviation fatality.

Defensive troops were stationed at Fort Myer during World War II, when it also served as a processing station for soldiers entering and leaving the Army. The U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) and the U.S. Army School of Music moved to the post in 1942, joined later by the U.S. Army Chorus. The Army’s oldest infantry unit, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) was reactivated in 1948 and assigned to Forts Myer and Lesley J. McNair in Washington to become the Army’s official ceremonial unit and security force in the Washington metropolitan area.

Henderson Hall

Henderson Hall is situated on Southgate Road on the southern border of Arlington National Cemetery, next door to the Army’s Fort Myer. The Pentagon is a short distance to the east, with the Navy Annex just to the south.

Henderson Hall owes its name to Brevet Brigadier General Archibald Henderson. “Brevet” indicates an honorable promotion. As a captain during the War of 1812, Henderson participated in the engagements with the British war ships the HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on April 20, 1815. He received a silver medal and was included in the thanks of Congress to the officers and men of the USS Constitution for gallant service. He was later presented with a jeweled sword by the state of Virginia.

In 1857, Marines were ordered, at the request of the mayor of Washington, D.C., to suppress an armed mob of “hired roughs and bullies” who had been imported from Baltimore to take possession of the election booths. During the riot, when a cannon was put into position by a large crowd who threatened the Marines, Henderson deliberately placed his body against the muzzle, thereby preventing it from being aimed at the Marines, just at the moment when it was about to be discharged. 


Family Housing at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall consists of 88 historic dwelling units on Fort Myer, Virginia and Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. Family housing is very limited and, although all officer quarters are designated for key and essential positions, there are limited quantities of enlisted quarters available on a first come basis. With an assignment to the National Capital Region Military District, you are eligible to live at any of the nearby military installations. 

On-post Housing:

Major realty/rental companies in the area:


Major airports:

Rail transit systems:

Bus transit systems:


You can find complete lists of area schools at the following links:



Post Exchange



Fort Belvoir Community Hospital

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

George Washington University Hospital

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

Childrens National Health System


MGM National Harbor

Capital One Arena

Nationals Park


Fashion Center Pentagon City

Tysons Corner Center

Tanger Outlet Mall

Potomac Mills


Everything in D.C. is a must see or do. There are countless numbers of museums, landmarks, and events that you will want to see and attend while here.



About Post with the Most

Each month, we do a segment that highlights an Army installation. We do this so we can provide you with as much information about a post as possible.

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