By Rick Williams
Promotion ceremonies in the life of a military member are time-honored traditions that are important to share with family and friends. However, at the current high “optempo” at which our military has operated the past 20 years, this ideal is not always possible.
Though he had to wait over 21 years, U.S. Army officer and Youngstown State University alumnus  Gerald “Jerry” Nunziato was finally able to share the momentous occasion with family and friends, as he was promoted to the rank of colonel in the United States Army. The event was held at the Carl Nunziato Veterans Resource Center at YSU Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. Over 60 people were in attendance, including Jerry Nunziato’s uncle and the center’s namesake, Carl A. Nunziato, accompanied by other friends and family.
Col. Nunziato was commissioned as an armor officer in 2000 through the Army ROTC program at YSU, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He subsequently completed a master’s degree in management from University of Maryland Global Campus. Over his 20-year career, he has served in many military roles and received extensive military education.
During his promotion ceremony, Col. Nunziato said, “Being able to conduct the ceremony at the Carl A. Nunziato Veterans Resource Center made the entire ceremony much more special because it was a further extension of everything my uncle has done in support of veterans. The center also represents YSU’s commitment to its veterans, and that is something that needs to be continually recognized and highlighted. Youngstown and YSU are special places that represent the grit of this nation and veterans play an important part in their shared history.”
When asked how he has continued to serve and be away from his wife and family, like so many soldiers do, the colonel quoted G.K. Chesterton, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Jerry credits his wife, Rhiannon, with much of his success, acknowledging how she stepped away from a corporate job and her native Seattle, to work at a cancer nonprofit upon his assignment to Ft. Hood, TX. Col. Nunziato recognizes the struggles of family when on duty.
“We will have been married for approximately 7 1/2 years, but only lived together for about a third of that time. As a means to give her stability with her job, I am currently living in D.C. for school while she is at our house in North Carolina. We see each other at least monthly,” Nunziato said.
Col. Nunziato also greatly appreciates his service for the opportunities it provides.
“On the surface, my over 21 years of service has provided the promised opportunity to see the world — five deployments, 17 moves and 20 countries visited. It has also given me the opportunity to work with the best this nation has to offer, and the ability to work with several members of our allied nations. The Army has also allowed me to truly appreciate family and have my eyes opened to the world. It’s been a wild journey with a handful of rough spots, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Nunziato projects that he may have another three to five years left before he decides to retire, but upon retirement he plans to let his wife have the show.
“She [Rhiannon] has done a remarkable job balancing her career with my journey; however, it is my time to balance so she can continue kicking ass. Rhiannon recently received another big promotion, with many more to come, so I need to make sure we have the flexibility to allow her career to continue flourishing.”
Col. Nunziato is currently attending the College of International Security Affairs, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.
***Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Rick Williams and edited by the Jambar editorial staff for AP style.