- Lieutenant Colonel
- Desert Storm & Operation Iraqi Freedom
David Accetta attended Cranston West High School where he ran track, played tennis and was captain of the swim team his senior year, placing in the State Championships and making the All-State Team. He was a member of the Rhode Island and National Honor Societies. While still in high school, he enlisted in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. Immediately following graduation in 1983, he departed for Army Basic Training at Fort McClellan, AL.
Upon his return from training, he began his freshman year at the University of Rhode Island and enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. David was active in athletics and extra-curricular activities including Model United Nations, WRIU-FM radio, swim team and the water polo team. David was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. In May 1985, while still at URI, he received a commission from the Rhode Island National Guard as a Second Lieutenant of Military Police. He continued to serve the Army as a member of the 443rd Civil Affairs Company (US Army Reserves) in Warwick where he was the unit Tactics, Weapons and Physical Training Instructor. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1987 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications and was selected for active duty as a Field Artillery Officer.
His first active duty assignment was in Germany where he served as an artillery platoon leader and then a nuclear weapons officer in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Division. Then LT Accetta organized and led the battalion marksmanship team in several US and international competitions, including second place in the division competition in Germany in 1989.
He deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm in late 1990 and participated in the initial invasion of Iraq with the lead US elements as a Fire Support Officer for an armor battalion. His brigade was awarded the Valorous Unit Award; and he received the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for Valor for his role in the Battle of “73 Easting” where he called a number of artillery missions under enemy fire, suppressing enemy tanks and armored vehicles, and decimating dismounted infantry leading to the capture of over 100 enemy soldiers. He was also awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal while later working in a refugee center on the Iraq/Kuwait border, and an Army Achievement Medal for his role in the establishment of a permanent US Army installation in Kuwait. While on leave in Cranston after the war, he was honored with the Key to the City of Cranston presented by the mayor.
As a captain, Accetta was then selected to command a field artillery battery at Fort Hood, TX in the 2nd Armored Division. Following command, he served as the Division Counterfire Officer until he was nominated to become the Division headquarters commandant for the 2nd Armored Division and later the 4th Infantry Division. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his service and selected to return to the University of Rhode Island as an assistant professor of military science. He was named brigade instructor of the year in 1997.
LTC Accetta served as a Public Affairs Officer in Germany using his URI obtained skills in communication and journalism. He also participated in numerous NATO exercises involving parachute jumps in several European countries and received two US Army Public Affairs Keith L. Ware Journalism awards.
In 2003, he deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom I and later participated in the initial invasion of Iraq. In June 2004, he was assigned to support the 60th anniversary commemoration of the WWII D-day landings where he made a historic parachute jump on one of the original drop zones. He was also assigned to support the 60th anniversary of Operation Market Garden in Holland where he interviewed Veterans for the American Forces Network and jumped at the Arnhem Bridge and the Ginkleheath drop zones. Returning to Iraq in 2004, he served as an operations officer and public affairs officer in Baghdad.
His next assignment was to Fort Bragg remaining in the Public Affairs career field and continuing his airborne skills. In January 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan as a Division and Senior Department of Defense Public Affairs Officer. In this capacity, he was responsible for over 50 public affairs personnel from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force across Afghanistan as well as the American Forces Network Radio and Television station in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII.
Lieutenant Colonel David Accetta retired in December 2008 after over 21 years active duty, 25 years after starting his military career as a private. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the Legion of Merit. He moved back to his hometown of Cranston with his wife Sabine and was hired as an Army civilian employee at the US Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA.
In 2006, he became a charter member and currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Public Relations Director for the Liberty Jump Team, a charitable organization dedicated to honoring Veterans by recreating the WWII European Theatre parachute jumps and performing at civilian and military air shows across the country. He has participated in the official French government D-Day commemorations in Normandy several times, jumping with the Liberty Jump Team at the original drop zones including the French government’s international military paratrooper tribute jump on Iron Mike Drop Zone outside of St. Mere Eglise.
LTC Accetta has been on the URI ROTC Alumni Chapter Board of Directors since 2010, is currently the Secretary of the Board, and chaired the 2010 ROTC Hall of Fame selection committee. He has jumped in four D-Day invasion anniversaries in Normandy, France as well as anniversary jumps in Holland. He has earned Dutch, German, Italian, Mexican, South African, and Mexican Naval Infantry parachute wings. He is still on jump status with the Army as a civilian and leads the US Army Natick Parachute Team participating in the Leapfest International Military Parachute Competition since 2010. He is a volunteer for the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs’ Honor Flight and coordinates the military color guard for the Honor Cordon. Additionally, he is a certified Therapy Dog Handler and volunteers with Harry the Therapy Dog at T.F. Green Airport with the PVD Pups Airport Therapy Dog program as well as at schools and assisted living facilities.
LTC Accetta’s exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon his country, his family and the University of Rhode Island.