FRANKFORD HIGH SCHOOL'S
JROTC - ARMY INSTRUCTOR
"My purpose is to motivate young people to
become better citizens."
F-A.COM: How long were you in the U.S. Army?
JOE FRAIOLI: I was in the army from 1968 to 1994, including two years in Vietnam. I worked in military intelligence as a linguist and cryptologist for the Army Security Agency. They sent me to school in Asia and Presidio California to learn languages. I graduated from Bishop Eagan High School in 1968.
F-A.COM: How was your transition from Vietnam to back home, with the anti-war sentiment so strong in the States during the 1960s and 1970s?
JOE FRAIOLI: I left Vietnam and went to Hawaii. I didn't experience what many vets on the mainland experience. They were more receptive. So, I continued my commitment to the Army and signed a contract for four--plus years. I built a home in Oahu, Hawaii, married and had a son. I was on a training assignment on the Big Island of Hawaii, when my wife and 13-year-old son were killed in a car accident.
F-A.COM: I'm so sorry for your loss.
JOE FRAIOLI: Thank you. I retired from the military in 1994. I got an offer to work at the Brockton School in Massachusetts. At the same time, I found out that there were two JROTC Army Instructor openings in Philadelphia at Frankford High and Strawberry Mansion High Schools. I decided that it was time to return home.
F-A.COM: We're glad you did. What are your goals for the JROTC?
JOE FRAIOLI: Motivate young people to become better citizens; and teach them leadership and communication skills.
F-A.COM: What are your challenges with Frankford's JROTC
JOE FRAIOLI: We're losing the student population and constantly recruiting. We barely have 800 students. Our special education numbers increased 25-30%, along with our ELL (English Language Learners) population. We have a lot of students coming from other countries. America is very different from where they were born and raised.
Keeping JROTC students for two to four years is also a big challenge. However, we also have our successes. I found out one former student was promoted to captain; two were promoted to leiutenant, another is in the National Guard; two in the Navy, one works for a nuclear carrier, three Marines and one former student is in the Air Force... and the list goes on. Frankford has so many successful students. Rockledge's Police Chief is an alumni.
F-A.COM: What are your most memorable moments?
JOE FRAIOLI: My most memorable moments were with my wife and son. Had they not died, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. I think there's a reason things happen the way they do. Today, I'm not only an Army instructor, I'm also a Sunday School teacher.
My greatest moment at Frankford was the day I was hired; being accepted into the JROTC program and the support of the alumni association and school.
F-A.COM: What is your hope for the future of Frankford's JROTC.
JOE FRAIOLI: When I leave the program, (I'm retiring in 2024) it will still be highly successful. And, that it's doing well because of the students.
I will continue teaching them to become leaders, and encouraging the support of parents and acknowledging that they take the program from 9th to 12th grade.
F-A.COM: Give us a snapshot of the JROTC.
JOE FRAIOLI: Our students attend classes every other day. One day is physical training. They perform drills and have ceremony practice. During class, they learn world history, global culture, map reading, public speaking, non-verbal and written communication.