Meet the young woman behind that viral USMC prom dress

Eye on Veterans
May 10, 2019 - 2:47 pm
Aubrey Headon's prom dress remembering the fallen Marines of 3/5 was a viral sensation

Photo courtesy Cass Headon

At first glance, it might look like just another prom dress, albeit a patriotically colored one. But those who look closer at Aubrey Headon's red, white and blue ensemble notice there's something different about the dress. This dress, and the young woman who made and wore it, are special.

Cloth ribbons from the waist of the Rochelle (Ill.) Township High School senior's dress bear names, and not just any names. They are the 25 Marines of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (also known as the "Darkhorse Regiment") killed in action between September 2010 and April 2011. 


The dress got attention outside of Headon's hometown, a small city 80 miles west of Chicago, as photos of it posted by her mother Cass gained traction on social media before being featured by several news outlets. One thing those stories don't focus as much on is that this isn't the first thing Aubrey Headon has done to recognize and honor the military and veterans. In fact, this wasn't even the first dress she made to honor them.

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"I did something my freshman year with my homecoming dress," Headon told Connecting Vets. "It was a blue dress, kinda like this one but darker. And I put the French Fourragere the 5th regiment wears on my shoulder, and then I had a belt of pictures -- of all their pictures -- on it."

That dress didn't garner media attention. Of course, that wasn't Headon's goal and it hasn't been for the several years she's spent volunteering to help out the Darkhorse Lodge, an organization that honors the memory of those Marines and is in the process of building a retreat for combat vets in Tennessee.

"I've been doing fundraisers, T-shirt fundraisers for Darkhorse Lodge for about 4 years now," Headon said. "Since I met Alec's mother Gretchen Catherwood." 

Alec is Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, who was killed in action on Oct 14, 2010. To Headon, the media attention is fine, as it brings attention to Darkhorse Lodge, Catherwood and his brothers in arms. But if it hadn't gotten the press, it doesn't seem like it would have made much of a difference to her. It's clear when you speak to her that the dress was made for those 25 Marines, not for the cameras. 

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"I just wanted to do something big for my senior prom for them," Headon said. "And they were kind of my escorts."

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