“Our Family Business Is Service To Country In Uniform”: Becoming The Best At West Point And In The Army

Rosemary E. (Stewart) O'Hara


Rosemary (Stewart) O’Hara was born in 1960, growing up in Long Beach and Port Hueneme, California. She came from a large family with a history of military service. Her great grandfather served in the Union Army, and both her grandfather and father served as military dentists, her grandfather in the Army and her father in the Navy. Her mother was a farmer’s daughter from Kansas. Rosemary is the fifth of seven children in her family. Five served in the military, including one brother who graduated from Annapolis in 1981. She grew up enjoying scouting and being outdoors. When she wanted peace and quiet, she went to the library. She was a Girl Scout, played in the marching band, and was on the volleyball, track, cross country, and basketball teams in high school. She wanted to become the best leader she could be, and applied to the Air Force Academy and West Point, understanding that women had only recently been admitted to the Service Academies (the first class with women started in 1976 and graduated in 1980). Arriving at West Point in the summer of 1978 was a culture shock. She had hair down to her hips, and before the day was done, she had received three haircuts. Even so, she felt that her Beast Squad Leader was a very fair individual. For academic enrichment, she participated in a foreign academy exchange and spent time at the Mexican Military Academy, honing her Spanish skills. She kept active as a Cadet, singing with the Protestant Chapel Choir, conducting bible studies with the Navigators and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, designing the Class Crest for ’82, and remaining engaged with the Corbin Seminar and SCUSA (Student Conference of US Affairs). Having conducted CTLT (Cadet Troop Leader Training) with the Signal Corps, she selected that branch as her first choice. After the Basic Course, she was assigned to the 26th Signal Battalion in Germany from 1983 to 1986 and participated in Operation Able Archer ’83. Her next assignment was in Korea with the 122nd Signal Battalion, where she commanded a company and was able to watch some of the 1988 Olympics. In 1991, she earned a master’s degree at the Naval Post Graduate School in database management as computers were becoming more integrated into the military. Around this time, four of her brothers were serving in Desert Storm. In 1992, she reported to Ft. Bragg and was assigned to the 35th Signal Brigade as the internet was being expanded. While there, she participated in Uphold Democracy in Haiti. In 1993, she became the S3 of the 51st Signal Battalion and participated in Hurricane Andrew relief. Following Command and General Staff College in 1996, she returned to Korea, serving there until 1998. In 1998, she served as the Chief Information Systems Director for the Defense Information Systems Agency, Pacific (DISAPAC), where she had to deal with the preparations for Y2K. Her final assignment in the Army was as the Director of the School of Information Technology, and she retired in 2002. In this interview, she talks about her childhood, her West Point experiences, and her Army career. She highlights several Signal Corps assignments and how real-world events (such as Y2K and the birth of the internet) affected her roles. She describes meeting her husband on active duty, and notes that their son is currently a Cadet. Finally, she reflects on her service and what West Point means to her, noting that being in the Army helped her to “be the best me I could be.”


conflicts Cold War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Family West Point History Women in Service
interviewer David Siry
date 09 August 2023


name Rosemary E. (Stewart) O'Hara
institution USMA
graduation year 1982
service Signal Corps
unit 26th Signal Battalion, 122nd Signal Battalion, 35th Signal Brigade, 51st Signal Battalion, DISAPAC, School of Information Technology
service dates 1982 2002