Navy Lieutenant Valerie Cappelaere Delaney, 26, of Anacortes, WA, and Ellicott City, MD, perished on March 11, 2013, when the Navy jet she was piloting crashed in Eastern Washington State during a training mission. She served as an EA-6B Prowler pilot in Electronic Attack Squadron 129 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Her military achievements include the National Defense and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals, and she was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant.
Born Valerie Alice Cappelaere on May 14, 1986, she was the second of three daughters of Doreen and Patrice Cappelaere of Ellicott City, MD. Valerie attended public schools in Howard County, graduating from Centennial High School with high honors in 2004, and lettering in soccer and lacrosse.
Proudly nominated by Congressman Elijah Cummings, Valerie earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy’s Class of 2009, arriving at Annapolis as a member of 17th Company, and taking on the difficult major of Aerospace Engineering. She was instrumental in Navy Women’s Lacrosse rising from a club sport to an NCAA Division I competitive team. Her love for lacrosse and her teammates resulted in deep friendships, and she inspired and mentored many of her teammates to pursue aviation with her same fearlessness and determination.
Upon graduation in May 2009, she was selected to be a Naval Aviator, and to pursue her dream of becoming a pilot. Initially training at NAS Pensacola, FL, she moved to VT-28 at NAS Corpus Christi, TX where she flew the T-34C for primary flight training. Valerie continued training at NAS Meridian, MS, flying the T-45 on the road to becoming a jet pilot. She earned her Wings of Gold in February 2012, and was assigned to VAQ-129 of NAS Whidbey Island.
Valerie met her future husband, fellow USNA classmate and native Marylander Sean Delaney, while training in Singapore and Australia after Plebe year. They were married on February 18, 2012 at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis; days after Valerie qualified her carrier landings. They made their home in Anacortes, WA, where they enjoyed mountain biking, snowboarding, and hunting together.
Valerie will always be remembered as a person of great integrity, strong faith, and an unyielding compassion for all those she met. Her legacy will be an inspiration to future aviators and all women.
For another bio and deeper look at Val’s primary character strengths of love, perseverance and spirituality, visit the Travis Manion Foundation’s fallen hero tribute page here.