By Paul Kurtz

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (CBS) — The 1980 graduating class of New Jersey State police recruits was the first of its kind: all were women.

Now an exhibit honoring their achievement has been placed on permanent display at the State Police Museum in Ewing Township.

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Memories came flooding back for members of the 96th State Police graduating class as they pored over the photos and other archival material from their earliest days.

“It’s just amazing what we went through. I honestly can’t believe it,” said one member of the historic class.

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Pride runs on many levels with this select group of women, 30 among more than 1600 who initially signed up, including Cathy Devlin.

“It’s physically and emotionally draining so, every once in a while you go ‘what the heck am I doing here?’ But that’s where your classmates come in and go, ‘no no, we’re good, we’re good.’ The 30 of us who graduated showed amazing grit,” Devlin said. “Most of us weren’t in it because we thought we were doing something historic, we just wanted to be cops. And we wanted to be Troopers because they were the best.”

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Shallop says these women were truly in a league of their own, as 15 rose to the rank of lieutenant and above.

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“Six were lieutenants, five captains, two majors, and two lieutenant colonel’s. It is beyond, you can’t even compare, there is no class to even compare that to. Extraordinary!” he said.