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Tags: 102-year-old | wwII | veteran | died | d-day | ceremony

102-Year-Old WWII Vet Dies En Route to D-Day Ceremony

By    |   Thursday, 06 June 2024 10:58 PM EDT

Robert Persichitti, a 102-year-old World War II Navy veteran from New York, died while traveling to France to participate in a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, a pivotal event that turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies, NBC News reported.

Persichitti was en route to Normandy by ship with a veteran's group when he suffered a medical episode, necessitating an airlift to a hospital in Germany. According to Richard Stewart, president of the veteran organization Honor Flight Rochester (HFR), he died peacefully listening to the sounds of his favorite artist, Frank Sinatra.

Stewart shared that he received the news of Persichitti's death on Friday, describing it as unexpected.

"He was active, sharp as a tack, right up [to the end]," Stewart told NBC News. "His health was age-appropriately very good up to 102. He had some heart problems, but he checked with his doctor, who said, 'Absolutely go on the trip.'"

Persichitti, a Fairport, New York, resident, was remembered as a humble man who lived a full and vibrant life. His journey began in the Allegheny Mountains outside Pittsburgh, where he grew up. He lived through the Great Depression, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, and enlisted in the Navy when World War II broke out. He spent a year in New York City attending radio school and learning Morse code before serving at sea as a junior radio operator aboard the command ship USS Eldorado in the Pacific.

He witnessed the historic flag-raising at Iwo Jima in February 1945, a moment captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal and immortalized as one of the most iconic images of the war. In 2019, he returned to Mount Suribachi with a veterans program from the National World War II Museum, recounting the emotional experience to Stars and Stripes, "When I got on the island today, I just broke down."

In 2020, Persichitti was inducted into the New York State Senate's Veterans Hall of Fame. After the war, he settled in Rochester, New York, where he spent 40 years as a shop teacher in the Rochester City School District, imparting carpentry and technical skills to his students. He was also a dedicated member of HFR, regularly participating in trips to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials.

In 2015, he published his autobiography, "Building an American Life." He frequently spoke to Pittsford, New York, students about World War II, with the Pittsford Central School District celebrating his 102nd birthday in April.

Persichitti remained an active volunteer with HFR, attending events in April and May, where he greeted hundreds of veterans. Stewart recalled, "When Bob said he was going to be someplace to do an event to help spread the word with Honor Flight, he was there; he'd be in his orange shirt. He was a great volunteer for us."

Persichitti's wife predeceased him, and he had no children.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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Robert Persichitti, a 102-year-old World War II Navy veteran from New York, died while traveling to France to participate in a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, a pivotal event that turned the tide of the war in favor of the Allies.
102-year-old, wwII, veteran, died, d-day, ceremony
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2024-58-06
Thursday, 06 June 2024 10:58 PM
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