Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: LT Hillary Allegretti

Anyone who meets Lt. Hillary Allegretti walks away with two distinct impressions – she loves the Coast Guard and is equally passionate about running. What baffles the mind is how she finds time to be so successful at both. When she dons her uniform, Allegretti serves as the waterways management chief and senior investigating officer for all federal marine casualties at Marine Safety Unit Cleveland. In her spare time, she is a marathoner who competes in Olympic-distance triathlons to “break the monotony of preparing for a marathon.”

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Co-authored by Christopher Lagan, Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf and Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw.

Lt. Hillary Allegretti, waterways management chief and sernior investigating officer at U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, Ohio, with the gold medal she earned in the triathlon at the 9th Gay Games. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw.
Lt. Hillary Allegretti, waterways management chief and sernior investigating officer at U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland, Ohio. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw.

Anyone who meets Lt. Hillary Allegretti walks away with two distinct impressions – she loves the Coast Guard and is equally passionate about running. What baffles the mind is how she finds time to be so successful at both.

When she dons her uniform, Allegretti serves as the waterways management chief and senior investigating officer for all federal marine casualties at Marine Safety Unit Cleveland. In her spare time, she is a marathoner who competes in Olympic-distance triathlons to “break the monotony of preparing for a marathon.” She finished 43rd out of 295 women – 9th out of 35 in her age group – in a half-Iron Man triathlon in California in 2009 and a second passion was discovered.

Allegretti’s Coast Guard career began at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where she graduated with the Class of 2005. From 2010 to 2013, she served as small passenger vessel chief for Coast Guard Sector New York, a position that would put her in charge of vessel inspections at the world’s third largest passenger ferry port. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Allegretti oversaw the resumption of commerce in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Hurricane Sandy was not only a significant moment for Allegretti professionally, it also created a personal challenge for her as an athlete. She had qualified for the 2012 New York City Marathon, the opportunity to fulfill a dream, only to have the event cancelled as the city rebounded from the impact of the worst natural disaster in it’s history.

The sponsors of the New York City Marathon offered Allegretti the opportunity to compete in 2013, 2014 or 2015. She chose this year and set her sights on being in the best position possible to compete this November. Again, she turned to triathlon as a way to train at the highest level while keeping it interesting. She trains five days a week – alternating between cycling, swimming, running, yoga and one day in which she combines a 25-mile bike ride with a six-mile run.

Lt. Hillary Allegretti on course during the run stage of the 9th Gay Games triathlon. Allegretti would finish with a time of 2:58:22 and claim the gold medal in the Women's 30-34 age group. Photo courtesy of Lt. Hillary Allegretti.
Lt. Hillary Allegretti on course during the run stage of the 9th Gay Games triathlon. Allegretti would finish with a time of 2:58:22 and claim the gold medal in the Women’s 30-34 age group. Photo courtesy of Lt. Hillary Allegretti.

Training in Cleveland, Allegretti was looking for a competitive triathlon as she continued to prepare for New York. What she found was a great opportunity to compete, an opportunity to inspire those she serves beside and an opportunity to deepen her affection for the Coast Guard – Cleveland was chosen as the host city for the 9th Gay Games, an international competition held every four years since 1982 founded on the principles of “participation, inclusion and personal best.”

“This was my first time participating in the Gay Games. I participated because it was being held in Cleveland,” said Allegretti. “I think the weight of participating as an openly gay service member really didn’t hit me until I was in the race and people were cheering ‘the Coastie.’”

While being a member of the LBGT community is not a requirement for participation in the Gay Games, military members would have been unable to do so prior to the 2013 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the last Gay Games were held in 2010. The Cleveland Gay Games marked the first opportunity for Allegretti to compete against athletes from around the world and prove herself an elite athlete on the international stage.

“I was happy to participate,” said Allegretti. “I was also happy to see the acceptance from the City of Cleveland and from the people in the city. It made me proud to be a Clevelander.”

On August 10, Allegretti competed in the Gay Games Olympic-distance triathlon. The race consists of a 1,500-meter swim followed by a 24-mile bike ride and concludes with a 10-kilometer run. Allegretti took the gold medal in the women’s 30 to 34 age group with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, 22 seconds.

Perhaps more significant than winning a gold medal, which she proudly displays upon request, Allegretti’s choice to compete, to do so openly and to dedicate herself to competing at the highest levels serves as a tribute to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty and makes her a role model for those who serve and those contemplating service.

“The gold medal meant that hard work and training pay off,” said Allegretti,” The accolades I have received from the Coast Guard family took me completely by surprise but I think further reinforces the perspective that the military appreciates and recognizes hard work regardless of your sexual orientation.”

Lt. Hillary Allegretti proudly displays her gold medal after winning the Women's 30-34 age group triathlon at the 9th Gay Games. Photo courtesy of Lt. Hillary Allegretti.
Lt. Hillary Allegretti proudly displays her gold medal after winning the Women’s 30-34 age group triathlon at the 9th Gay Games. Photo courtesy of Lt. Hillary Allegretti.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

8 comments on “Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: LT Hillary Allegretti”

  1. I am happy to start the discussion. I congratulate LT Allegretti for her accomplishment, as she is an athlete of some skill, and she is one of us, a wearer of the Shield.
    However, it is long past time for us in the Coast Guard to be talking about homosexuals in the Service, women in the Service, people of all colors in the Service, people of different ethnic or national ancestry in the Service. We are all Coast Guardsmen, we all took the same oath to the Constitution and of obedience, and we all have the same obligations both to that oath, to the Nation that we have chosen to serve, and to our shipmates, especially afloat and in the air.

    I have been a member of the Coast Guard for over 62 years, 34 years of that on active duty. I have commanded 6 different cutters, and one large shore command. I have served on the gunline in Viet Nam, in a Cutter that served in all 4 Corps Areas, and earned 2 Presidential Unit Citations. I have been on Ocean Station Duty, commanded Cutters involved in every kind of law enforcement we do, have commanded an icebreaker in Antarctica and the Great Lakes, and have been in every kind of SAR case there is. So my credentials as a Coast Guardsman in all of the richness that implies should not be in question. My standards were then, and are now at the end of my life: does this person put ship and shipmates over self, does this person fulfill the obligations of the oath that we all took, and when he or she-or I-fail, do we work together to make it right.

    We do not now, nor did we ever, need diversity training or diversity officers, fraternization training, harassment training, or any of the other kinds of training and special billets for any of this bilgewater. What we have always needed, and need now more than ever, is full compliance with the regulations in existence, and especially the traditions that come to us from the centuries past of what it means to be a shipmate. Shipmates, classmates, messmates do not let other shipmates, classmates and messmates be treated in any other way than as if the very survival of the organization depended on it-for it does. That we have allowed the Coast Guard to come to this sorry pass is beyond my understanding. Having gotten there, however, it is long overdue for us as a Service to return to our basic values. Those include honor, they do not include the pursuit of some diversity for the sake of that as one of our objectives. They include respect, in both directions up and down the chain of command, not “respect” for some at the expense of the rest, and they include devotion to duty, which means the duty to which each of us is assigned, not some “duty” to a cause beyond the mission of our Service.

    I leave to a future discussion, should this site allow it, the amount of duty time that LT Allegretti put into her off-duty athletics. And I would be happy to have someone now on active duty enlighten me on what the Uniform Regulations now say about tattoos. I am dismayed by the display that LT Allegretti is showing, as I would be if I saw it covering a Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate with 35 years service.
    JOSEPH H. WUBBOLD III CAPT USCG (Ret)-Captain Joe

    1. Absolutely Capt. Joe….think you speak for most of us Coasties!! As one of many other Coast Guard Combat Vets like yourself (1971), BTW, a fact that most Americans today, in and/or, out of the service….don’t even know, that we were in Vietnam….OR don’t know the CG is the 5th branch of our Uniformed Services (BTW2…that term the latest PC “adjustment” to military terminology….think Armed Forces better described who and what we are…or at least were, for many decades)…..As you describe clearly what works, always have, alway will..I hope we “get back to basics”, the sooner the better. What DHS and DOD are doing in P management today…seems to me, although well intentioned, to be counterproductive in so many ways.
      JLS/O-4 (ret) 1960-82.

  2. I have to echo Captain Joe. As a 29 year reserve and active veteran and a retiree for 25 years I am also appalled not at Lt Allegretti’s values or sexuality but at her tats and at the CG’s emphasis on diversity. Honor, Respect, and Devotion to duty were the hallmarks of the Service when I was serving. As a Commanding Officer of the vessel that welcomed the first female graduate of the Coast Guard Academy onboard about the same time I reported in, my first meeting with her was something like this: Do your job, learn your trade and we will get along fine. Her only complaints were the continuous media presence both in port and at sea and the years previous class remarking that they were the last class at the Academy being all males that had to meet a higher standard. By cancelling all future media trips aboard over the objection of a bunch of higher ups and by judicious counseling of the other JO’s in the wardroom (in hack for their tour aboard) we settled both concerns. She did her job well and was a good shipmate.

  3. Congratulations, LT Allegretti! What an accomplishment! And yes, I agree, the people of Cleveland are the best, glad you had a cheering section!
    Hey MSU Cleveland- LT Allegretti will make an excellent candidate for the CG’s Female Athlete of the Year….

    And to my fellow commenters, yes, the LT’s tattoos are within CG regulations. And I appreciate your comments that we all strive for a Coast Guard where all people are valued, but there is merit to promoting diversity. For example, this post could serve as inspiration to a young high school student, non-rate, petty officer, or junior officer who identifies with LT Allegretti (as to gender, career track, sexual orientation, athletic interests, anything) and can now visualize his or her own success in the Coast Guard. It is important to have role models and I applaud the Compass for introducing us to new ones every week.

  4. Could you please get Lt. Allegretti in touch with me? The Auxiliary has done some outreach with a local LGBT sailing club here in New York and I’d be interested in having her meet them. There are some former service people in the club who served before the repeal of DADT as well as some very enthusiastic members who I am sure would like to cheer her on at the Marathon and get to hear about her work.

    1. DCDR,

      We’ve removed your personal contact information from your comment in keeping with our comment policy but have passed it on to Lt. Allegretti.

      Respectfully,
      Christopher Lagan
      U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs

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