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Robert Persichitti, a decorated World War II veteran and New York native, who had the honor of witnessing the iconic raising of the American flag in Iwo Jima, has passed away at the age of 102.

His death occurred while he was en route to France to attend a commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, as confirmed by a veterans organization.

According to American Military News, Persichitti served as a radioman aboard the USS Eldorado in the Pacific during the Second World War. His service record includes tours of duty in the Pacific theater, Okinawa, Guam, and Iwo Jima. It was in Iwo Jima that he experienced one of the most poignant moments of the global conflict.

Residing in Fairport, Persichitti was traveling with a group associated with the National World War II Museum and his companion, Al DeCarlo, as reported by WHEC 10. Their destination was France, to honor the pivotal D-Day event of World War II. Tragically, Persichitti suffered a medical emergency on May 30 while sailing towards Normandy. He was promptly airlifted to a German hospital, where he passed away the following day.

The nonprofit organization Honor Flight, dedicated to assisting veterans in attending war memorials and events, confirmed Persichitti's passing. They honored him as a man who had "served his country bravely without hesitation."

Despite a history of heart problems, Persichitti was eager to make the journey to France. He told WROC-TV that his cardiologist had encouraged him to undertake the trip. "I'm really excited to be going," he had said.

DeCarlo shared that Persichitti passed away "peacefully" as doctors played some of his favorite Frank Sinatra songs. "He was not alone, he was at peace and he was comfortable," DeCarlo told the news outlet.

Persichitti was among the American troops who witnessed the historic raising of the American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. "I was on the deck," he recounted to Stars and Stripes in a 2019 interview upon his return to the region. "When I got on the island today, I just broke down."

After the war, Persichitti dedicated his life to education, becoming a public-school teacher in Rochester. Upon retirement, he continued to educate by visiting schools to share his war experiences with students. His passing marks the end of an era, but his legacy of service and education will continue to inspire future generations.