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Edmond native one of first women to graduate West Point

Brynnen Sheets Hahn of Edmond said West Point was tough but the military life was rewarding.
BY STEVE GUST, For The Oklahoman Modified: June 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm •  Published: July 1, 2012

Brynnen Sheets Hahn not only was exposed to the magnificent military heritage at West Point, she became part of the lore. The Edmond native was one of the first group of elite women to attend West Point, graduating in 1980.

The adventure has only continued since then — with a distinguished career in the military followed by another as a high school math teacher. In the meantime, she got married and raised three children. Her husband, Robert, is a fellow West Point graduate. The couple became the first graduates of the military academy to marry.

During a recent visit to Edmond, Hahn, 54, recalled how it all started with a letter she received in November 1975. Thousands of young women, seniors in high school, got the letter — based on their ACT and SAT scores.

It was from the government, and it urged them to apply for admission to the military academies. Before this, women had not been admitted to the academies.

Military tradition

Hahn was a senior at Edmond Memorial High School and already considering the University of Oklahoma. But her family, which includes a brother and two sisters, had ties to the military, moving only a few years previously from Lawton.

Her father is a Korean War veteran. The idea of a military career appealed to her, and she applied.

Once accepted to West Point, she wasn't quite sure what to expect.

That didn't stop her from making the trek to the famed U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., founded by order of President Thomas Jefferson in 1802.

After nearly 200 years, women were now going to be cadets.

That transition didn't sit well with some of her male counterparts and even some of the school administrators.

More than 30 years later, she can't discuss some of the incidents.

“I'm just not comfortable talking about it at all,” she said. The challenges of being the first female cadet were part of her daily life for four years.

“Physically I was in good shape and ready for it,” the former high school athlete said.

It wasn't easy for that first female class.

Of 119 female cadets, just 62 graduated four years later. Hahn had a hard time, even on graduation day, believing the academy would actually honor the female cadets for their hard work.

“I was never sure until I got the diploma,” she recalled.

Today, she says, female cadets no longer face discrimination or harassment.

“I talked to a woman who graduated from Annapolis in 1992 and even by then there were no problems.”

While at West Point, she made history again when she became part of the first women's basketball team. She had played basketball at Memorial.

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I love the military and I love the people of the military. It's been just great.”

Brynnen Hahn


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