As some of you may or may not know, Val didn’t get into the Naval Academy right away. But being the hard-headed and determined bull she was, that didn’t stop her. After graduating high school, Val attended Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) in Massachusetts for a year of prep school in 2005. Her fellow classmate, also a USNA grad, Allie Burns, attended the 10-year reunion event on June 6 and had the opportunity to pay a tribute to Val to all those present.
According to Allie, “The memorial service was beautiful. It was held at sunset on the fields where Val played sports. We gathered in a circle as a symbol of unity. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. Val was such an incredible, compassionate young woman. It was an honor to speak on her behalf.”
As Allie recounted to the group, while Val wasn’t thrilled about completing a 5th year of high school, NMH became the foundation of her success at the Naval Academy. She competed in three sports (soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse), took several advanced placement classes, participated in the concert choir and select women’s ensemble, and developed lasting friendships, particularly with the five other “Navy Girls” on campus.
In her tribute speech (which you can read in full here), Allie shares special memories of Val from her time at NMH and their subsequent friendship through Navy and into flight school. She sums it up exquisitely in the last paragraph:
“As we honor LT Val Cappeleare Delany today, I want you to remember that she was not just a beautiful, intelligent, athletic young lady with the voice of an angel. Valerie was a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. She was warm, caring, and full of zest. Valerie was an American hero, who wore wings of gold on her chest as a reflection of her own heart of gold, who made the ultimate sacrifice. Fair winds and following seas, thank you for taking the first watch.”
Thank you, Allie, for expressing these words so thoughtfully and for carrying on Val’s inspiration in your continued life and career. If anyone has any memories they’d like to share from NMH, please comment below or engage with us on Facebook.