U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse presented the U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal to Johnston resident Ronald Petrocchi during a ceremony at his office on Monday morning.
Petrocchi is a U.S. Army veteran and former first line supervisor with the Johnston Police Department. He served as a military police officer from July 1961 until June 1964. The majority of that service took place in South Korea at the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, including duty at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After his service in South Korea, Petrocchi returned to garrison military police duties at the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia. In June 1963, Petrocchi’s unit was activated by President John F. Kennedy under Executive Order 11111, which forced Alabama Gov. George Wallace to comply with Brown v. Board of Education and desegregate the University of Alabama.
Following his discharge in June 1964, Petrocchi returned to Rhode Island, where he served for 34 years with the Johnston Police Department. He retired in June 2001 as the detective commander with the rank of captain.
When Petrocchi separated from the Army, he was told he was eligible for the Good Conduct Medal but the medal was never issued. After 55 years, Petrocchi felt it was time to track the award down. Whitehouse’s office worked with the U.S. Army congressional liaison at the Pentagon and the National Archives to secure the medal for him through the Army Human Resources Command and TACOM. (Photo courtesy of the office of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse)