Navy Officers Pay Tribute to One of Their Own

BLAKELY, Pa. -- Naval officers paid tribute to a woman from Lackawanna County who was a trailblazer in the military.

Chief petty officers gathered at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Blakely on Friday to honor their own.

A flag-changing ceremony was held at the grave of Loretta Perfectus Walsh. Walsh was the first female to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

CPO Tara Colangeli led the way as service members took down a worn flag to hoist a new one.

"As a female myself, I think that is huge to look at her accomplishments and then move forward, so she was kind of a forerunner for females in the Navy to take on that role and have that leadership for other females to follow," Colangeli said.

Petty officers tell Newswatch 16 Walsh was based out of Philadelphia and served from 1917 to 1919. After she died from tuberculosis in Oklahoma in 1925, her family brought her here to be buried in Lackawanna County.

"First female in the Navy, in an organization that was mostly men, so that was huge for her and others and even the men to have a female in the workplace," said Colangeli.

"Chief Walsh was underrecognized, and my generation elevated her memory. Chiefs worldwide were introduced to her through the chief's training," said retired CPO Marty O'Horo, U.S. Navy.

CPO Tom Glica, U.S. Navy Reserve, says last year the flagpole was damaged, but thanks to Blakely borough, it was repaired.

"We were able to come up here today because on Monday it will be Loretta's birthday, so I figured why not," said Glica.

Navy officers placed flowers at her grave to remember her service, forever in their hearts.

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