United States

WWII Veteran Robert Persichitti Dies While Travelling To Normandy For D-Day Commemoration; Less Than 1 Percent Of WWII Veterans Alive

Robert Persichitti, a 102-year-old WWII US Navy veteran, passed away while traveling to France to honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

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WWII Veteran Robert Persichitti Photo: X
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A 102-year-old World War II US Navy veteran Robert Persichitti, passed away last week while traveling to France to honor the 80th anniversary of D-Day. He was remembered as a "wonderful, pleasant, humble guy" who was "easy to know, easy to talk to," said Richard Stewart, Honor Flight Rochester President and CEO.

Persichitti died while on his way to Normandy— where the Allied forces’ landing on June 6, 1944, laid the foundation for the defeat of Nazi Germany. He served in the Pacific theater as a radioman aboard the USS Eldorado during the war. His service included significant battles such as Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Guam. Persichitti was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2020.

Persichitti fell ill last week during a stop in Germany while travelling to Normandy and was subsequently airlifted to a hospital, where he passed away shortly after. His traveling companion and friend, Al DeCarlo, recounted the moments before his death, "The doctor was with him. He was not alone, he was at peace and he was comfortable. “She put his favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, on her phone and he peacefully left us.”

Despite previous heart issues, Persichitti's health, according to Steward, was as "superb" for his age. Born in a coal mining town near Pittsburgh, Persichitti rose from humble beginnings. Post-war, he became a carpentry teacher in Rochester, New York, and earned a degree from SUNY Buffalo in 1972.

Robert Persichitti
Robert Persichitti Photo: US Naval Institute
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Known for his love of travel and his dedication to educating younger generations about WWII, Persichitti frequently visited schools to share his experiences. Persichitti was among the dwindling number of surviving WWII veterans. According to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, only 119,550 i.e., less than one percent of the 16.4 million Americans, who served in WWII were still alive as of 2023. The museum noted that approximately 131 WWII veterans were dying each day.

US President Joe Biden highlighted this at the recent D-Day commemoration in Normandy. He emphasized the urgency of preserving the legacy of those who served. "We’re not far off from the time when the last living voices of those who fought and bled on D-Day will no longer be with us," Biden said. "So we have a special obligation. We cannot let what happened here be lost in the silence of the years to come."

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