D-Day Anniversary Tragedy

(DailyEmailNews.com) – In a tragic turn of events, a 102-year-old American veteran of World War II passed away whilе traveling to France for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Robert Persichitti from Fairport, New York, was one of thе veterans who once witnessed the iconic raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima.

He suffered a medical emergency and died in a hospital in Germany, according to a statement from a veterans organization.

The Navy veteran was traveling with a group linked to the National World War II Museum. They were aboard a ship heading to Normandy for the upcoming D-Day commemoration when he fell ill and required an emergency airlift to a hospital.

Persichitti was part of a dwindling group of U.S. veterans journeying to Normandy this week to honor the anniversary of the June 6, 1944, invasion that significantly contributed to the end of World War II.

“I’m really excited to be going,” Persichitti, who had previously dealt with heart issues, told WROC-TV just a day before his departure.

Friend and travel companion Al DeCarlo recounted, “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.”

During WWII, Persichitti served on the command ship U.S.S. Eldorado as a radioman second class and took part in critical battles at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guam.

He was among the American troops who saw the American flag hoisted atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945 — an event immortalized in one of the war’s most famous photographs.

“I was on the deck,” Persichitti told Stars and Stripes in a 2019 interview when he revisited the region. “When I got on the island today, I just broke down.”

He also spoke of the grim sights he witnessed from aboard the Eldorado, such as injured Marines being brought onto the ship and numerous sea burials.

“When they made the landing, they started losing all these guys,” Persichitti noted. “It wasn’t a very good sight.”

After his military service, Persichitti taught in a public school in Rochester and continued to engage with students about his wartime experiences even after retiring.

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