World War 2 hero aged 102 dies on his way to D-Day anniversary

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A 102-year-old World War Two veteran has died en-route to events commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Robert ‘Al’ Persichitti had fought in the Pacific theatre of the Second World War against the Japanese, and had been a witness to US Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima.

He was a US Navy veteran who was a radioman second class aboard the USS Eldorado, a Mount McKinley Class amphibious command ship that was used in World War Two, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Persichitti said he’d helped handle the communications for operations in the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa.

From the deck of the Eldorado, he saw the flag being raised, though it would be another 74 years before he set foot on the island himself.

In 2019, he and his friend Al DeCarlo, a history teacher he’d met when he went to his class to tell his story to the students, had returned to the Pacific island.

According to 13WHAM, he said at the time: “With me, it was to think of all the young fellas.

“They were like kids. They put ’em out there, 17 or 18 years old. A lot of ’em never even made the beach.”

This year Persichitti had been invited to attend the D-Day 80th anniversary events.

He’d told WROC: “I got ahold of my friend that went to Iwo Jima with me, Al Di Carlo, and he says ‘yes, we’re going’.”

However, the 102-year-old became unwell while on a boat in the North Sea and was airlifted to a hospital in Germany where he died.

DeCarlo told 13WHAM that his friend was not alone when he died, and the doctor had played his favourite music to him as he passed.

He said: “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.

“He was a radio man on a communications ship off the coast of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

“He met another radio man, I think he was from the Army, and they were chatting about things from 80 years ago. It was amazing to watch.”

After the war, Persichitti had become a school teacher and would visit classrooms to tell them about his experiences in the Second World War, through which he met DeCarlo.

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