102-Year-Old WWII Veteran Passes Away While Travelling To D-Day Ceremony

Robert Persichitti, a 102-year-old World War II Navy veteran, passed away while on his way to France for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Persichitti was traveling with a veteran’s group when he had a medical emergency and was airlifted to a hospital in Germany. He died peacefully, listening to Frank Sinatra, as reported by NBC News.

Richard Stewart, president of Honor Flight Rochester (HFR), described Persichitti’s passing as unexpected. Stewart noted that Persichitti remained active and sharp-minded up until his death. Despite his heart issues, Persichitti’s doctor had approved his participation in the trip.

Born in the Allegheny Mountains near Pittsburgh, Persichitti lived through the Great Depression before joining the Civilian Conservation Corps and enlisting in the Navy during World War II. He trained in radio operation and Morse code in New York City before serving aboard the USS Eldorado in the Pacific. Persichitti witnessed the historic flag-raising at Iwo Jima in 1945, a moment immortalized in a famous photograph by Joe Rosenthal.

Persichitti revisited Mount Suribachi in 2019 with a veterans program, sharing his emotional experience with Stars and Stripes. In 2020, he was honored by the New York State Senate’s Veterans Hall of Fame. After the war, Persichitti settled in Rochester, New York, where he taught carpentry and technical skills for 40 years. He remained an active member of Honor Flight Rochester, often traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials.

Persichitti wrote his autobiography, “Building an American Life,” in 2015 and regularly spoke to students in Pittsford, New York, about his wartime experiences. The Pittsford Central School District celebrated his 102nd birthday in April. He continued to volunteer with HFR, attending events and greeting veterans up until his final months.

Stewart praised Persichitti’s commitment, recalling, “When Bob said he was going to be someplace to do an event to help spread the word with Honor Flight, he was there; he’d be in his orange shirt. He was a great volunteer for us.”

Persichitti’s wife predeceased him, and he had no children.