By Rob McIlvaine, ARNEWSMarch 27, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 28, 2011) -- Col. Sylvia T. Moran, one of 119 women who entered West Point in 1976, joined the ranks of her 1980 classmates who have since retired, with one exception - she is the last female officer to do so.
A Pentagon reception March 25, included her family, friends and military mentors, such as Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, current West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon Jr., and Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh who all came to thank her for exceptional service to the nation.
Casey explained how Moran is part of a legacy that continues in the military.
"At a recent celebration honoring the first women to enter West Point sat a young cadet, Jennifer Hazlett, who wants to become a pilot. She mentioned in a recent newspaper article that she never could imagine that she couldn't do anything that she wanted to do," Casey said.
"And it's been pioneers like Sylvia who have made that possible. And so we're here to honor today a woman who has paved the way for women in our military for over three decades and has left a great legacy," he said.
After being commissioned a second lieutenant in military intelligence, Moran's first assignment was as a paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"When Sylvia entered the military, we weren't quite ready. West Point wasn't quite ready for women. So when she realized she wasn't being accepted at the 82nd Airborne, she said, 'here's the deal. Anyone who can beat me in the PT test gets a three-day pass.' Piece of cake, right' No one got a three-day pass," Casey said.
She continued this tradition when she went through French Commando School where no one wanted to be beaten by a woman, all the while learning and mastering French and Arabic. She did this so well, that West Point brought her back to teach both languages.
She also coached the U.S. Army Judo Team, resulting in the team's first national title in 1993, as well as individual titles for her as a U.S. Masters National Judo Champion in 1992 and 1993.
After serving in Korea as an intelligence officer, heading back to Paris where she taught National Security Strategy to French military officers in their native language, Casey asked her to come over to Iraq to be his intelligence officer.
Along with numerous other assignments, Moran also served in the Pentagon in a variety of roles: deputy chief of the Army's War Plans Division, military assistant to the assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and strategist to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then as executive officer to the director of the Army Staff.
"She was my exec officer in War Plans and at Army Staff and there was no one who worked harder or unwavering to our mission. She's a leader of character," said Huntoon, who became superintendent at West Point in July 2010.
"Yesterday, I was out at Fort Riley, Kan., and I was talking to a group of Soldiers," said Casey. "At the end of my talk this one young Soldier raised her hand and said, 'General, what's going on with women in combat' I'm being denied access to positions that will allow me to be everything that I want to be.'"
"So Sylvia, there is another generation of women, not just in the Army, but in the military, who are going to see other barriers fall here and be able to be everything that they want to be, and that's about as American as you can get.
"That will be your legacy," Casey said.
Moran's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the U.S. Department of State Superior Honor Award. She also earned the U.S. Army parachutist and air assault badges, and the French Armed Forces parachutist and Commando badges.
For more information on the West Point class of 1980, visit: http://www.army.mil/-news/2011/03/19/53485-army-women-honored-for-paving-new-path/