CAPT John A. Romano, USN (Ret) is a retired Navy Captain and long-time East Greenwich resident.
John Romano’s role in RI aviation history is broader than his service and accomplishments as a Naval Aviator. With war clouds on the horizon in the late 1930s, the Navy appropriated the Romano family’s 400-acre Davisville farm, vineyards and winery to build the Quonset naval complex. John worked at the winery as a young man, before graduating from LaSalle Academy in 1941. He joined the Naval Aviation Cadet program in December of 1942 at the age of 19, and received his pilot’s wings in early 1945. Assigned to a torpedo bomber unit, he was preparing for deployment to the Pacific when the war ended. He was discharged in 1946 and managed the family-owned Greenwich Hotel for three years until being recalled to active duty with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in 1950. He flew high-altitude photo missions over North Korea and Vietnam from the carriers Essex and Oriskany, and decided to make a career as a naval aviator. Among his numerous assignments was a stint as a Navy production test pilot at Douglas Aircraft from 1956 to 1958; while there, he tested the A3D Skywarrior, the A4D Skyhawk and the F4D Skyray.
By the time he retired in 1970 after 27 years of service, he had accumulated some 3500 hours of flight time, 1500 of which were in jets. His last assignment was as XO of Quonset Point Naval Air Station. He then launched a successful political career which included one term as a state representative, followed by 8 years (1974-1982) in the RI Senate, where he rose to Deputy Minority Leader. During that period, he became involved with his wife’s family’s business—a small grocery store turned restaurant that became an East Greenwich icon: Pal’s. The Town designated Captain Romano as Grand Marshal of the 2007 Memorial Day parade.
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Captain William McBrayer Calhoun, USN, Ret. (1948-2015) was a long-time RI resident who graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1967. Capt. Calhoun was a LTJG with the highly decorated Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3), nicknamed the “Seawolves”, an all-volunteer squadron formed in support of Naval Special Warfare operations and Mobile Riverine Forces.