102-year-old American veteran dies on trip to France to celebrate his anniversary

A US Navy veteran of World War II traveling to France for an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings has died, a veterans organization confirmed.

Robert “Al” Persichitti of Rochester, New York, was flown to a hospital in Germany on May 30 after suffering a medical emergency aboard a ship headed to Europe.

He died the next day, at the age of 102.

Remembered as a “great humble man”, Persichitti participated in the Allied operation in Japan.

Honor Flight, a veterans organization to which Persichitti belonged, confirmed his death on social media and said he had “served his country bravely and without hesitation.”

The nonprofit organization helps transport former U.S. service members to memorials of the respective wars in which they fought.

The 102-year-old man was selected to attend the event in Normandy by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which paid for and organized the trip, reported a local affiliate of CBS News, a partner of the BBC in the United States.

“I’m very excited to go,” he told WROC-TV a day before leaving.

His cardiologist had encouraged him to travel, he added.

Al DeCarlo, who worked alongside Persichitti in Japan, was also on the trip. He told local media in Rochester that his friend did not die alone.

“The doctor was with him… he was at peace and comfortable,” he said, according to ABC news agency affiliate WHAM-TV.

“She put her favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, on her phone and he left us peacefully.”

The two served together on Iwo Jiwa, a Japanese island that the United States captured from the country’s imperial army in 1945.

Pastor William Leone, a friend of Persichitti’s for 46 years, told WHAM-TV that he “had a real zest for life” and would visit children at local schools to talk about his experiences.

The veteran was also a teacher. In April, students at a local school helped organize a birthday celebration in his honor.

In 2020, then-Senator Rich Funke named him a New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame honoree.

His local Honor Flight chapter in Rochester said he will be missed.

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