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First Female Commandant of the United States Naval Academy - Margaret “Peg” Klein, USNA Class of 1981

podcast Apr 28, 2020

Margaret “Peg” Klein, USNA Class of ‘81 served as the very first woman to hold the position of Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. In episode #033 of the Academy Insider Podcast, Grant Vermeer introduces us to the woman who commanded the Brigade of Midshipmen!


Peg Klein retired in 2017 as a Rear Admiral in the Navy. She’s presently the Dean of the College of Leadership and Ethics at the Naval War College.

Klein was one of the first women to enter the Academy, entering as a plebe just one year after the first women were inducted as the class of 1980.

She realized early on that “this was not a normal college experience.” She was undaunted though, knowing she wanted to join the Navy and gain a commission.  

Having been a part of “a time of great change for the Navy”, her “let’s get this done” mentality helped her to power through and eventually commission as a Naval Flight Officer, despite not having a female mentor in aviation.

Throughout the interview, we hear awesome quotes about Klein’s leadership journey before, during, and after being the first female Commandant, like these:

“I came to the Navy because of my love of flying, I stayed in the Navy because of my love for people.”

Klein even shares a funny anecdote on the differences on the Yard between her times a Mid and when she became the Commandant: “they finally had air conditioning in Bancroft Hall!” 

For plebes-to-be, Klein is a phenomenal role model to look up to as you begin your Naval career. However, there are so many more interesting stories and insights that take place in this Academy Insider Podcast. 

Be sure to listen to Peg Klein on the Academy Insider Podcast, or wherever you subscribe to podcasts such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Thank you to Jordan Orris of the Academy Insider team for her contributions on this post!

Grant is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy class of 2017. He is also the founder of Academy Insider. You may reach out to Grant with questions at [email protected].  

To learn more about the Naval Academy through the perspective of a midshipman/recent graduate - subscribe to his podcast the Academy Insider Podcast with Grant Vermeer on Apple Podcasts, Google Play MusicStitcher and Spotify.

If you want to learn more about the United States Naval Academy, please follow the Academy Insider on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website

Academy Insider is not affiliated with the United States Naval Academy. All thoughts and opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the United States Navy or the Department of Defense.