- Cold War Era
Richard Ferro was born in Providence, grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and attended Cranston East High School. He excelled scholastically throughout high school and played on the Cranston East Thunderbolts football team. In 1960, he continued his education at the University of Rhode Island where he was enrolled in the Army ROTC program for two years. He was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Upon graduation in 1964, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics.
Because of his strong desire to serve his nation, Richard joined the United States Air Force immediately after graduation from URI and enrolled in Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and served proudly and honorably for 25 years. His worldwide assignments during this time period were critical for the advancement of the Air Forces’ Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) Systems. After a short period of technical training at Mississippi, he was assigned to a key leadership position at Gentile Air Force Station, OH, as Chief of Maintenance for one of the main regional communications nodes for military operations in the United States. In 1968, Richard was transferred to HQ 5th Air Force, Japan, where his duties included deployment to South Korea, providing essential C31 support of the US military build-up during the Pueblo Crisis where a Navy intelligence vessel and 83-man crew were held captive by North Korea for 11 months.
Colonel Ferro completed three highly successful command tours of duty during his Air Force career. He served as Commander of the 1878th Communications Squadron supporting a new F4 Phantom Fighter Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia during the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he served as the Commander of the 1978th Communications Group and the 314th Air Division Director of Communications-Electronics in Panama with responsibility for all US Air Force communications systems in Latin America. During this tour of duty from 1982 to 1985, Richard was recognized for his leadership during a period of heated and dangerous conflict throughout Latin America between militant revolutionary forces against the Government of El Salvador and others in the region. His duties in Latin America also included United States Air Force representation on the committee for advancing telecommunications technology and resources among all Air Forces of North and South America. The committee was a key element of an international organization, the System of Cooperation among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA) which is still in place today to foster apolitical cooperation among the North and South American Air Forces.
Colonel Ferro’s final assignment was as the Commander, Air Force Computer Acquisition Center (AFCAC), the centralized procurement organization responsible for acquisition of millions of dollars in state-of-the-art commercial computers throughout the Air Force and several other military entities, including the deployment of the first desk-top computers. Colonel Ferro retired on 30 June 1989 with 25 years of military service.
His military awards and decorations include: Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Service Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
Colonel Ferro earned a Master’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Northern Colorado while on active duty; and after Air Force retirement, a Graduate Certificate in Business Ethics from Bentley University, Massachusetts.
Following retirement, Richard has worked in the private sector as government contracts and compliance manager, consultant to small businesses, and in the real estate market. .In 2012, he received the Veteran Owned Small Business Advocate of the Year Award from the Rhode Island and New England US Small Business Administration (SBA)
Richard and his wife Ceci (Amman, URI Class of 1966) have been married 52 years and reside in Newport, Rhode Island. They are avid supporters of the URI Athletics, the URI Foundation, and the ROTC Alumni Chapter.
Colonel Ferro has spent his entire life serving his community and nation during peace and war. His exemplary devotion to duty and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island.