Harold "Hap" Joseph Rocketto, age 74, of Stenton Avenue, Westerly, died on July 8, 2021.
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A loving and supportive father, and a deeply devoted husband, he is survived by his beloved wife of 42 years, Margaret Chiaradio Rocketto, daughter Sarah Rocketto of Westerly, daughter and son-in-law Leah and Michael Goldberg of New York City, brother Stephen Rocketto of Oakdale, CT, sister Leslie Rocketto, of Waterford, CT, brother- and sister-in-law Robert and Cynthia Arsenault, nieces Caitlyn Baker (Joe), Alexis, and Audra Arsenault, and great niece Vivian Baker.
He was predeceased by his parents Abraham and Sylvia Rocketto.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in New London graduating from New London High School, Mitchell College, Westminster College Fulton, Missouri, and Central Connecticut State College.
A Vietnam era veteran he served as an officer in the US Navy and then enjoyed a 20- year career as a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard with whom he deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.
He began his teaching career at Norwich Free Academy and next taught at Lyman Memorial High School in Lebanon, CT before joining the faculty of E.T. Grasso Regional Vocational Technical School where he served as a science teacher, Department Head of Related Education, ending his career as the state supervisor of apprentice training at Electric Boat in 2003.
A competitive rifleman he served on the Connecticut National Guard and All National Guard Rifle Teams where he was a member of numerous national championship teams, earning the US Army Distinguished Rifleman Badge, the Presidents Hundred award, and the National Rifle Association’s Distinguished Smallbore Rifleman Award in both Position and International competition. A national champion in the intermediate senior and senior categories he held numerous national records, represented the United States in international competition, was a perennial Rhode Island state smallbore champion. He served as a volunteer rifle coach at the US Coast Guard Academy and was awarded the Spirit of the Bear Award for his strict adherence to the service's core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty, and for his direct influence in the personal growth and professional development of the Corps of Cadets.
Rocketto, regarded as one of the nation’s premier historians of competitive rifle shooting, published hundreds of articles and seminal monographs on the subject.
An enthusiastic aviation buff he was a member of the Groton Hangar of the Ancient and Secret Order of the Quiet Birdmen and was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration in recognition for his professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft.
A longtime member of the Westerly Lions Club he was also a construction volunteer with the South Country Chapter of Habitat for Humanities.
His professional and social memberships include the National Rifle Association, USA Shooting, The Rhode Island Revolver and Rifle Association, The Connecticut Rifle and Revolver Association, the Corporal Digby Hand Schützenverein, the Quaker Hill Rod and Gun Club, the Black Hawk Rifle Club, the Shooting Sports National Foundation, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Ancient and Secret Order of the Quiet Birdmen, The United States Naval Institute, Collegiate Rifle Coach Association, and The Winter Assizes at Norwich.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, July 22nd from 4-7p.m. at Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly. A Funeral Service will take place at 10am on Friday, July 23rd at the funeral home. Burial with Full Military Honors will follow at St. Sebastian Cemetery, Westerly. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Father Ray Suriani Scholarship Fund, St. Pius X Church, 44 Elm St., Westerly, RI 02891 in Hap’s memory. For online condolences please visit www.gaffneydolanfuneralhome.com