Lieutenant Colonel Peggy Miller Bahnsen was born in Huntington, W.Va., a daughter of the late Lester and Lucille Miller. She was graduated from High School in Chester, West Virginia, and then from West Virginia University with a bachelor of science degree in recreation.
Originally working as a recreation center director in Oak Park, Ill., Los Angeles, Calif., and as a service club program director in Vietnam for the U.S. Department of Defense, she would go on to receive her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. That same year she was commissioned a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Lieut. Col. Bahnsen enjoyed a distinguished 22 year Army career, during which time she was the first, the highest ranking, and the only woman in most units in which she served.
Of all her duty positions, several were especially commendable. She was Commander of the 19th AG Detachments and Postmaster of the U.S. Post Office in Seoul, Korea, the largest in the Pacific. She was the first woman Regimental Tactical Officer for the United States Military Academy at West Point in charge of one quarter of the Corps of Cadets. As Chief, Soldier Support Division, she supervised all research and development of Army uniforms, basic sustenance needs, and equipment for every soldier in the Army.
Of note, Lieut. Col. Bahnsen’s final assignment was as the first woman WVU graduate to command the West Virginia University Army ROTC Battalion.
Lieut. Col. Bahnsen’s military decorations are numerous and include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, five awards of the Army Meritorious Service Medal, two awards of the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Medal. She also received the Medal for Civilian Service in Vietnam.
She was named an outstanding graduate of the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sports Science, was selected to its Hall of Fame, and was a member of its Visiting Committee. Lieut. Col. Bahnsen gave the college’s commencement address in 2009. She was interviewed on CNN in 1990 and presently speaks on military and leadership related topics.
Lieut. Col. Bahnsen is co-founder and past president of the Lincoln Legacy Foundation and former director of Camp Lincoln, a leadership camp for teens. Currently she is a mediator for West Virginia’s First Family Court Circuit. She also chairs the Weirton Medical Center’s Board of Trustees.
Lieut. Col. Bahnsen, who is a private pilot, resides on the Miller Family Farm on Gas Valley Road in Hancock County, W.Va., with her husband, Brigadier General John C. “Doc” Bahnsen.
“Doc” is an Army retired Brigadier General who has been designated a Distinguished Graduate of West Point, selected to the Aviation Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame and is the most decorated member of his West Point class, with more than 70 decorations, including 18 medals for heroism and two purple hearts.Their children are Chris, Leeanne, James, Minh and the late Bradley.