102-Year-Old WW2 Veteran Passes Away En Route to D-Day Event

A 102-year-old World War Two Navy veteran died last week as he was traveling to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

According to Honor Flight Rochester, Robert Persichitti, who served as a radioman on the USS Eldorado in the Pacific, fell ill in Germany last week on his way to France.

Al DeCarlo, who was traveling with Persichitti, told Rochester’s WHAM News that his friend was airlifted to a hospital where he later passed away.

DeCarlo said the doctor was with Persichitti at the time and used her iPhone to play the veteran’s favorite singer Frank Sinatra as he “peacefully left us.”

Honor Flight Rochester President Richard Stewart, who learned of Persichitti’s death on June 7, said the World War Two vet was a humble and pleasant man who would be missed.

Stewart said while Persichitti had previous heart problems, at 102, he remained in “superb health.”

Persichitti served in Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, according to Stewart. In 2020, he was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.

Born in a mining town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when Pershichitti left the Navy, he worked as a carpentry teacher in Rochester. He later enrolled at SUNY Buffalo where, in 1972, he received a degree. 

Pastor William Leone, a friend of Persichitti’s, told WHAM News that the Navy veteran enjoyed talking to younger generations about his experiences in the Second World War, often giving talks at local schools.

Robert Persichitti was one of the few surviving US World War Two veterans remaining. As of last year, only 119,500, or less than 1 percent, of the 16.4 million Americans who served were still alive.

According to the National World War Two Museum, on average, roughly 131 World War Two vets die each day.