John Petrella Jr

  • Colonel
  • Operation Provide Comfort & Bosnia


John Petrella Jr. is a native of Providence, Rhode Island. He was born on 28 September 1945 to John and Ann Petrella. He is a 1964 graduate of Hope High School where he was a member of the football and track teams. John entered the University of Rhode Island in 1964. He is a member of Theta Delta Chi Fraternity and participated in the Army ROTC program for 4 years. John earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting in 1968 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.

Colonel Petrella served for over thirty years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve in various command and staff positions. He entered active duty in November 1968. His initial assignment as a Lieutenant was with Alpha Company, 10th Battalion, 5th Training Brigade, Fort Knox, Kentucky, as a Training Officer. 1LT Petrella left active in August 1970 following a tour of duty with the 7th Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea. He received a U.S, Army Reserve position in December 1972 and was assigned to the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, Warwick, Rhode Island, where he served in various staff positions ending his tenure as Battalion Commander.

In January 1991, LTC Petrella mobilized with Joint Task Force Alpha and deployed to Iraq and Turkey in support of “Operation Provide Comfort,” a large humanitarian mission involving hundreds of thousands of displaced Kurds in the Southeastern Turkish mountain ranges along the Iraq border. LTC Petrella was singularly responsible for establishing a Civil Military Operations Center which coordinated non-government relief organizations providing relief to the displaced civilians. For his outstanding performance of duty, Lieutenant Colonel Petrella was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

In June 1992, he was assigned to the 353rd Civil Affairs Command, Bronx, New York, as the G-3 Operations Officer. Upon being promoted to Colonel in June 1993, he assumed the position of Deputy Commander, 353rd Civil Affairs Command. In January 1996, Colonel Petrella was recalled to active duty for “Operation Joint Endeavor,” Sarajevo, Bosnia. As a result of his leadership and outstanding performance, Colonel John Petrella was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal.

                                                               Citation – Defense Superior Service Medal

Colonel John Petrella Jr., US Army, distinguished himself through exceptionally superior and meritorious achievement as Deputy Chief, Combined Joint-Civil Military Co-operation and Deputy Commander, United States Civil Affairs Forces, “Operation Joint Endeavor” from 4 January 1996 to 3 June 1996. During this period, Colonel Petrella’s superior performance significantly contributed to the Implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace and “Operation Joint Endeavor.”

As deputy Chief, he mobilized United States Army Civil Affairs soldiers, integrated assigned Allied forces, and provided guidance to the combined forces in the executing of many of the activities in support of the International Government Organizations. These accomplishments significantly enhanced NATO’s ability to execute the Peace Support Mission. The distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Petrella reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Army, the Department of Defense, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Colonel Petrella’s additional awards include: Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NATO Medal and United Nations Medal. COL Petrella holds a Master Degree in Business Administration from Providence College and a Master of Science Degree in Taxation from Bryant College. Colonel Petrella is a retired Senior Executive of the United States Treasury Department.

Colonel Petrella has been involved with the University of Rhode Island since his graduation. He is a member of the URI Alumni Association, the URI Army ROTC Alumni Chapter where he has been Co-Chairman of the annual golf tournament and Vice President of the Chapter. He is a member of the URI Accounting Department Advisory Board, and he continues to support the URI Foundation and Athletics.

Colonel Petrella lives in North Kingstown with his wife Doreen. Colonel Petrella is a true leader and is extremely active in his community volunteering countless hours to numerous programs. He has served his community, the University of Rhode Island, and our country as a distinguished leader in “The One Army Concept” with dedication and professionalism.