Providence College Graduate at Normandy

Joseph P. Vaghi, Providence College ’42 (#30)


PBS interview with beach master Joseph Vaghi (“The War”)

Joseph P. Vaghi attended Providence College on a football scholarship, graduating in December of 1942. During the war years at Providence College studies were often accelerated for those entering the service, and a number of Dominican faculty members left their teaching posts to serve as military chaplains.

Lt. Commander Vaghi was a beach master at the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach (a “traffic cop in hell”) on June 6, 1944, where he was wounded. He later volunteered for combat duty in the Pacific and took part in the invasion of Okinawa. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in 1945. After the war he studied architecture at The Catholic University of America. One of his sons, Joseph, graduated from PC in 1978, and another son, Msgr. Peter Vaghi, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington.

From Providence magazine, Fall 2001:
“For his part, Joseph Vaghi graduated from Providence College in December of 1942 and immediately headed for the University of Notre Dame for special naval training, along with seven other PC graduates. They all completed the intensive 90-day training, leaving as commissioned ensigns.

“PC had an effect on all of us,” he recalled. “We knew what we were doing, and we gave it our all. A lot of the guys from other colleges dropped out. What I learned in terms of fidelity, honesty, integrity—those were all qualities I had learned growing up and were reinforced at Providence College. When I left PC, I felt qualified to do anything.”