From left, Julie Koczela, Jack Koczela, Seaman Josephine Rojas of the Navy Ceremonial Guard, Ruth Koczela, Lt. Cmdr Julie Gillespy of Naval District Washington, and Luke Koczela pose for a photo.
WASHINGTON (NNS) — Ruth E. Black Koczela, a 100-year-old World War II Navy veteran, and her family visited on Dec. 14 the chapel at her former duty station, the Nebraska Avenue Complex, formerly the Naval Communication Annex, where she married a fellow naval officer in 1946.
Koczela married her late husband Leonard Stanley "Paul" Koczela, also a WWII Navy veteran, Aug. 27, 1946, while both were stationed in the Washington, D.C., area.
Jack Koczela, son of Ruth and Paul Koczela, said the family requested to visit the NAC following a walk last summer near the facility. The visit marked Jack Koczela's first visit to the place of his parent's nuptials.
"If you happened to observe her, she was almost literally 'marching' from the car to the entrance of the Chapel," said Jack Koczela in an email. "One could easily say that she was marching down memory lane and contemporaneously 'reverted' to her years as a U.S. WAVE. She stood upright and made her own way!"
The Koczelas met before their time in the service while attending North Adams State Teachers College, now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, in North Adams. After a year of teaching elementary school in Monroe, Mass., Ruth Koczela was commissioned in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVE).
While serving at the Navy Communication Security Section, Koczela and her fellow WAVES worked on deciphering enemy correspondence. Due in part to the efforts of her unit, the Allies broke the German Enigma code in 1944, ultimately paving the way for the Allied victory.
Lt. Ruth Koczela's military service ended in 1947 when she was honorably discharged as a lieutenant with the Navy Unit Commendation, American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory medal.
Paul Koczela was a graduate of the former Adams (Mass.) High School. He served in the Pacific theater and retired from the National Security Agency after 28 years. He and his wife split their time between Washington and her hometown of Williamsburg, Mass., until his death in 2003.
During her visit, Koczela was escorted by Lt. Cmdr. Julie Gillespy of Naval District Washington and Seaman Josephine Rojas of the Navy Ceremonial Guard. Gillespy presented a coin and a letter signed by Rear Adm. Michael Steffen, commandant, Naval District Washington.
"It is my sincerest hope that during your visit to the place of your nuptials and former duty station you recall happy memories of those years," wrote Steffen in a letter to Koczela. "Our nation is eternally grateful for your entire generation's contribution to global peace and security."
The federal government acquired the land for the NAC in 1943 and conducted intelligence operations there until moving to Fort Meade, Md. The Department of Homeland Security took over the NAC in 2003.
Naval District Washington is the regional provider of common operating support to the Navy's shore installations, provides ceremonial support for the Navy and national leadership, and supports Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region.
Editor's Note: Some local information was added to this article via iBerkshires.com.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
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Community Bancorp of the Berkshires Elects New Corporators
ADAMS, Mass. — Community Bancorp of the Berkshires, MHC, the newly formed parent company of Adams Community Bank, held its annual meeting on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams.
The following individuals were elected corporators of Community Bancorp of the Berkshires, MHC: Marnie Clough of Adams; Erica Samson Girgenti of Adams; Pamela Green of Pittsfield; and Sarah Eustis of Great Barrington.
Board chair Steve Pagnotta welcomed the newly elected corporators.
"These four individuals are all generous contributors to our surrounding communities and bring a unique background and skillset to the position, which will play an indispensable role in guiding and managing our banking activities," he said.