US veteran, 102, dies on journey to France for anniversary

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A World War Two US Navy veteran travelling to France for an event marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings has died, a veteran organisation has confirmed.

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

He died the following day, aged 102.

Remembered as a “great, humble man,” Mr Persichitti was involved in the allied operation in Japan.

Honor Flight – a veteran organisation Mr Persichitti belonged to – confirmed his death on social media and said he had “served his country bravely without hesitation”.

The non-profit helps transport former US servicemen to the memorials of the respective wars they fought in.

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

“I’m really excited to be going”, he told broadcaster WROC-TV a day before he set off.

His cardiologist had encouraged him to travel, he added.

Al DeCarlo, who served alongside Mr 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 he was comfortable,” he said, according to ABC news agency affiliate, WHAM-TV.

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

The pair served in Iwo Jiwa together, a Japanese island the US captured from the country’s imperial army in 1945.

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

The veteran was also a former teacher. In April, students at a local school helped organise a birthday celebration in his honour.

In 2020, he was named an honouree of New York State Senate’s Veteran Hall of Fame by the then Senator Rich Funke.

His local chapter of Honor Flight in Rochester, said they will miss him.

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