Richard Drolet, Ret. Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force, 78, of North Smithfield, formerly of Pawtucket, passed away on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, at home surrounded by his loving family. He was the husband of Diane (Carden) Drolet for the past 53 years.

Born in Central Falls, he was the son of the late Ulrick and Rolande (Lambert) Drolet. He resided in North Smithfield for the past six years, previously residing in Alexandria, Va.; Delray Beach, Fla.; Arizona, and California.

Colonel Drolet served for 29 years in the U.S. Air Force. He flew over 400 combat missions as an F-4 Phantom fighter pilot for two tours during the Vietnam War. He received numerous medals, most notably the Distinguished Flying Cross. He also served in the Rhode Island Air National Guard as a C-130 pilot.

Upon retirement from the military, he was employed as a federal contractor in the Sultanate of Oman, followed by a position with the non-profit organization Counterpart International in Washington, D.C.

Richard was a talented musician, artist, and ballroom dancer. He also loved traveling.

In addition to his beloved wife, he leaves his son, Rich Drolet, and his wife, Kara, of North Smithfield; his daughter, Christy Drolet Hofmanner, of West Chester, Pa.; his sister, Elaine Carden, and her husband, Bill, of Naples, Fla.; and his brother, Alfred Drolet, of Pawtucket. The loves of his life were his four grandsons: Brennan, Sam, and Oliver Drolet, and Will Hofmanner.

Relatives and friends are kindly invited to Colonel Drolet's Life Celebration to be held with visiting hours on Thursday, Jan.13, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the J. J. Duffy Funeral Home, 757 Mendon Road, Cumberland, R.I. A prayer service will be held the following day at the J. J. Duffy Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. Burial with full military honors will follow at 11 a.m., at the Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Exeter.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, 1085 North Main St., Providence, RI 02904.

For the online memorial, visit .

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Colonel Drolet,

The F-4 Phantom II Society salutes you and thanks you for your service and sacrifices in the name of freedom of these United States of America.

Steve Billings

Vice-president, F-4 Phantom II Society

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