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​James Ferullo receives the Yankee Division patch from U.S. Army First
Lt. Michael Kane '10.

Double Honor Recognizes WWII Veteran

James Ferullo, a three-time Purple Heart recipient, was honored not once, but twice, when Providence College recognized his military service as part of the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) created during World War II.

Formerly of Brighton, Mass., and now a resident of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass., Ferullo was presented an honorary bachelor of science degree and a Yankee Division service patch in a stirring ceremony before family, friends, and staff at the hospital recently.

The patch presentation was a spontaneous gesture by U.S. Army First Lt. Michael Kane, a 2010 graduate of PC’s ROTC program, and brought tears to the eyes of Ferullo and most of those present.

“That touched everyone. It was a truly special moment,” said Major Michael P. Manning ’97 & ’08Hon., of the Rhode Island National Guard.

Manning, accompanied by Kane and Army First Lt. William R. Buckley, III ’12, a May ROTC graduate, represented the College in awarding the honorary degree to Ferullo.

The diploma award is part of PC’s ongoing outreach — launched during Commencement Exercises in 2011 — to recognize ASTP members whose studies were interrupted in March 1944 when they were called to service overseas in World War II. Most of the soldiers never returned to PC to complete their degrees.

The ASTP was a rigorous military training program instituted in 1943 by the Army at more than 120 higher-education institutions. Spurred by the lowering of the draft age to 18 that decimated enrollment at colleges, the program trained “the best and the brightest” military recruits in several academic disciplines.

The objective was to assign these highly educated and skilled soldiers to the anticipated rebuilding of Europe. That plan was sidetracked for the approximately 400 students at PC when an escalation in war action led to their sudden deployment.

The PC students were assigned to Unit 1188 of the 328th Infantry Regiment of the 26th Yankee Division. Thirty-seven members of the unit from PC were killed in action during the war.

From one comrade to another

During the ceremony honoring Ferullo, when Kane — who recently served  in Afghanistan — learned they were both members of the same Yankee Division unit, he knelt down, removed his division combat zone identification patch from his right shoulder, and presented it to Ferullo.

One of Ferullo’s daughters, Donna L. Ferullo of Indiana, said the move highlighted a happy and proud day for her father, who also received a citation and a PC cap that he immediately donned.

“My father smiled throughout the whole program,” she said. “He had not smiled like that in a very long time. The day was so memorable, and all our family and friends expressed how honored and privileged they were to be there.”

Ferullo served for approximately two years in the Army and was injured during the Battle of the Bulge — the last major German offensive of World War II — in Belgium. He also was injured while fighting in France and Czechoslovakia.

Ferullo is the 16th ASTP member from what is frequently referred to as PC’s “Lost Class of 1944” to receive an honorary bachelor’s degree. The majority of the presentations have occurred in private ceremonies facilitated by alumni ambassadors in nearly a dozen states.

“It was a great honor to present his degree to Mr. Ferullo,” said Manning. “All of us affiliated with PC’s ROTC program owe a great debt of gratitude to these (ASTP) veterans.”

Manning added, “PC has never forgotten these veterans — that’s what’s so special — and they have not forgotten PC.”    

— Charles C. Joyce 

 
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