Person of the Week
Ron DeNuzzo: A Desire to Serve
Ronald “Ron” DeNuzzo has had a long career in law enforcement, one that started shortly after his stint in the Navy and that continues today through service as a school resource officer in North Branford. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Denuzzo )
Ron DeNuzzo poses in front of the mini-sub Alvin, which was used by the U.S. Navy to recover a nuclear warhead from a bomber that crashed at sea. (Photo courtesy of Ronald DeNuzzo )
As an individual who served in the U.S. military, had an extensive career in law enforcement and is now a school resource officer, Ronald “Ron” DeNuzzo understands what it means to put the larger goals of an organization before his own interests.
Ron’s desire to serve in the military started in high school, when he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves.
“What I was seeing as a young kid in high school intrigued me,” Ron says. “I always felt the need to serve my country before I went on to do anything else in life.”
He became an active service member in 1965, serving on the USS Fort Snelling in Little Creek, Virginia.
The experience was eye-opening for him.
“I [had] never been outside the bay here in East Haven,” Ron says. “All of a sudden, I found myself sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
“From there, it was a great experience for me as a young sailor, to experience life,” he adds. “[It] helped me grow and [made] me [the] better person that I am today.”
In 1966, when a B-52G bomber collided with a KC-135 tanker during a mid-air refueling, Ron and other servicemen took part in a historic search and rescue for a missing hydrogen bomb.
“This is one of my proudest moments,” Ron says. “It was such a heroic event that occurred.”
The U.S. government stored and launched two mini-subs from the ship that Ron was staffing for the operation off the coast of Spain.
“It took us 78 days to find the bomb,” Ron says.
Upon retrieval from the ocean, a towing cable broke, nearly severing the leg of Navy diver Carl Brashear. Brashear was the first African American master diver in the United States Navy.
“I was so proud to be in the Navy…proud to serve with a Navy diver like Carl Brashear,” Ron says.
Another highlight of his time in the Navy was helping to recover an unmanned NASA space capsule from the ocean. He also participated in a line-crossing ritual with several other crewmates and the captain, when they crossed the equator for the first time.
“It was such a great event because we all got initiated,” Ron says. “It was phenomenal…It’s a big event in anyone’s life. For me, besides what happened in Spain, that was another great experience of my life.”
Ron was honorably discharged from the military in 1967 and shortly thereafter took a position as patrol officer with the New Haven Police Department.
While working full-time, Ron earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of New Haven. He minored in education.
“My last stint with the police department was arson investigator, which was another rewarding experience,” Ron says. “Way back then arson was running rampant. New Haven was the first department to form an arson squad. I was fortunate to be on that arson squad.”
Ron received two medals from the police department, the first for saving an elderly woman from a burning building and the second, for taking two gunmen into custody by gunpoint. After retiring from the police department, Ron became a police inspector with the Division of Criminal Justice in the Litchfield State’s Attorney’s Office.
In this position, he prepared cases for trial by collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and meeting with police after individuals were arrested, among other duties.
He served in this capacity until 2017. He also served for several terms on the East Haven Board of Education.
“You start from the beginning and 49 years later this is where my accomplishments brought me,” Ron says. “I have these things to look back on, accomplishments that help fulfill me.”
Today, Ron’s sense of accomplishment is also realized as a school resource officer in the North Branford School District.
“My position as a school resource officer is to protect the school from any outside incidents that occur,” Ron says.
“I get to interact with these kids everyday…and teach them the meaning of camaraderie…respect…particularly respect not only for themselves [but] parents, teachers, the school district. That is my mission,” he says.
His ability to connect with the elementary school children in Northford is drawn from his own experience as a parent to three now-grown children and five grandchildren.
He has also coached numerous children through his volunteer work with the Sal Tinari Biddy Basketball League in East Haven. He is currently treasurer of the organization and a past president.
Ron continually gains a sense of satisfaction when the children that he has coached achieve success. This was particularly true when the East Haven High School girls’ basketball team won the state title last year.
When “our girls team won the state title, three or four of those kids, I was the coach of their biddy basketball…that was something to see them achieve that,” Ron says.
Whether teaching good sportsmanship to kids on the court or instilling respect for others in elementary students, Ron’s goal today is always the same, to help kids “to be a better person in life,” he says.
Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email at .