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© 2019 US Women's Rugby Foundation. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019 U.S. Women's Rugby Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

USA Rugby Board Candidate: Capt. Brenda Holdener

Updated: Jun 1, 2019


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arif Patani

The US Women's Rugby Foundation (USWRF) and Women's Rugby Leadership Council (WRLC) selected five candidates to be considered for the USA Rugby (USAR) Board of Director positions that have been recently vacated. The national governing body is vetting applicants quickly, and thus USWRF and WRLC encourage the rugby community to contact their USAR Congress representatives to endorse these candidates in an attempt to #BalanceTheUSARBoard.

Read more about the candidates here:

A native of East St. Louis, Ill., Brenda Holdener graduated from Oregon State University in 1985 as a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps student with a degree in construction engineering management. She later attended the U.S. Naval War College and received a Master of Arts degree in national security affairs and strategic studies.


In 1986 Holdener entered the Naval Aviation Program. She has since served as a pilot and department head at Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Six (HC 6), a detailer at Naval Military Personnel Command (NMPC), the navigator aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the Commanding Officer of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Two (HC 2), the navigator aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), and a director for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command.


Captain Brenda M. Holdener enlisted in the United States Navy in 1978. In 1980, she received an NROTC scholarship to Oregon State University graduating in 1985. Her first tour was working Manpower Studies at Navy Manpower Engineering Center Detachment in San Diego, California as a General Unrestricted Line Officer. In 1986, she was selected for the Naval Aviation Program and earned her coveted “Wings of Gold” in July 1988.

Captain Holdener’s first sea tour was flying the CH-46 Sea Knight at Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SIX (HC-6) in Norfolk, Virginia with two deployments to the Med/Red Sea on the USS BUTTE (AE-27) and on the USNS SIRIUS (T-AFS 7).


Following her tour at HC-6, Captain Holdener reported to the Naval Military Personnel Command (NMPC), PERS 43, in Washington, D.C. as the Separations/Initial Assignment Detailer.


In December 1994, she returned to sea duty on USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) as the Assistant Navigator and Navigator making another Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf deployment. In 1996, she went back to HC-6 for her Department Head tour serving on the USS INCHON (MCS-12) as the Detachment OIC on the INCHON’s first deployment as the Mine Counter Measures Command Ship to the North Atlantic Sea for Exercise “Blue Harrier”. At HC-6, she also served as Maintenance Officer earning the distinction as the 1998 Maintenance Officer of the Year for Region Four of the Naval Helicopter Association.

Captain Holdener returned to PERS 43 at Naval Military Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee as the Helicopter Sea Detailer in 1999. In November 2000, she graduated from the U. S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island with a Master of Arts Degree in National Security Affairs and Strategic Studies.


In 2001, Captain Holdener reported to the “Fleet Angels” of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron TWO (HC-2) in Norfolk, VA flying the H-3 Sea King. She assumed command of the “Fleet Angels” in June 2002. Following her command tour, she was assigned as the Navigator to USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) based in Yokosuka, Japan from January 2004 to March 2006.


Captain Holdener completed her joint tour at United States Northern Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, CO from June 2006 to January 2009 as a Command Center Director for NORAD and USNORTHCOM. During that time, she completed a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

In June 2009, CAPT Holdener reported to the USS WASP (LHD-1) as the Executive Officer and in October 2010, she had the honor of becoming the Commanding Officer of USS WASP. She reported to USTRANSCOM as the Inspector General in April 2012.

Her personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with two gold stars), Navy Commendation Medal (with two gold stars), Navy Achievement Medal (with two gold stars), and various unit and campaign awards.