96-year-old alumnus, known for his enthusiasm for life, entered The Citadel after serving in World War II at 25
It is with great sadness the Maine Citadel Club reports the passing of our friend Carmine Anthony Pecorelli, Class of ’54. The few brief paragraphs below can’t begin to paint the picture of his love for The Citadel, the country and for his fellow veterans. He will be missed by so many people that knew him and by the organizations he supported with endless energy.
The Maine Citadel Club
Carmine Pecorelli passed away peacefully on March 18, according to one of his sons, who said his father’s story is one that carries with it his father’s hardy laugh and big smile, for which he was known among many other things.
Pecorelli enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 25, 1943, and went to Naval Training Station Sampson, New York. Upon completion of boot camp, Carmine served on the USS Dynamic AM-91 (Mine Sweeper) and then he was assigned to VFN-90, one of the first-night fighter squadrons. Carmine rose to the rank of Radarman Second Class and was honorably discharged from the Navy on June 27, 1946.
Pecorelli became a cadet at The Citadel at the age of 25 after returning from service in World War II and went on to serve in the Navy in Korea and Vietnam. In 2017 he was named Alumnus of the Year by The Citadel Alumni Association. He returned to his alma matter where he was honored with a military review parade dedicated to him during which he stood with then President of The Citadel, Gen. John W. Rosa, USAF (Ret.) ’73.
According to the award citation, Pecorelli worked to bring the Traveling Vietnam Wall to his local museum and served as one of the hosts while it was there. The citation also states that Pecorelli has raised funding for honor flights from Maine for veterans to go to Washington D.C. – the Honor flight Network provides transportation for American veterans to travel to the nation’s capital to view the memorials related to their service.
Additionally, Pecorelli served as marshall for the Wreaths Across America annual caravan from Main to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. to place wreaths on graves. During one of his many trips there to honor America’s veterans, he was selected to place the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Pecorelli also placed wreaths on the graves of his Citadel classmates and on the grave of former Citadel president, Gen. Charles P. Summerall.
He was a life-long, highly active member of the Maine Citadel Club, near his home in Belfast, Maine.
Pecorelli’s full obituary, written by his son, Capt. Stephen Pecorelli, USA, can be read at this link.
Belfast mourns World War II veteran who was ‘everyone’s best friend’
BELFAST, Maine — Carmine Pecorelli, a Belfast World War II veteran who was known for his bright smile and warm demeanor with everyone he met, died Friday at the age of 96.
His passing marks the end of an era at the Randall-Collins Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3108 in Belfast, where Pecorelli was the last surviving member who belonged to the “Greatest Generation.”
“He was the last one — that’s a big loss for us,” Jim Roberts, the post’s operations manager, said Friday. “Carmine himself is a big loss. He was so important to everybody. He was everybody’s best friend.”
Pecorelli, a dynamic presence at local parades, veteran’s events and school classrooms, was a real-life link to a storied American past that more and more people know about only from history books and movies.
He grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was always proud of his Italian-American roots. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Pecorelli, who was just 14, stood in line at the local recruiting station, one of thousands of Americans who were ready to fight for their country.
But he stayed in school until he was 16, when he dropped out to become a member of the New Jersey State Guard. The following year, he enlisted in the Navy, where he served as a petty officer on a minesweeper in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Although the war wasn’t easy, Pecorelli said last year that he and the other Americans were confident that the tides of history were on their side.
“We knew we would win,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
When he got out of the Navy, the first thing he did was to go back to high school at age 21, Roberts said. Then he went to college at The Citadel in South Carolina before returning to the military. Pecorelli served in the Air Force during the Korean War and was in the Army Reserve during the Vietnam War, when he helped to train thousands of soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As a civilian, Pecorelli had a public relations and marketing career in New Jersey. After he moved to Maine in 2004, he quickly became an important part of the community.
“He was a bright star in a small town,“ Belfast Mayor Eric Sanders said Friday. “He personified all that was good about our soldiers and how we should respect them.”
In 2017, Pecorelli was named alumnus of the year by The Citadel Alumni Association, which cited his efforts to bring the Traveling Vietnam Wall to a Maine museum, to raise funds for Honor Flight Maine, and his service as marshall for the Wreaths Across America annual caravan.
“During one of his many trips there to honor America’s veterans, he was selected to place the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” the award citation from The Citadel read. “After serving in three wars, Carmine continues a life of service to the country and the veterans that have given so much.”
There was just something about Pecorelli that made him special, according to Roberts.
“Whenever we were out in the community, doing something, everybody would be around Carmine,” he said.
A memorable moment happened when he and Pecorelli were both marching in the 2018 Maine Lobster Festival parade in Rockland.
“It was a huge parade, a mile and a half long. Carmine decided to stop and talk to somebody. The entire parade stopped. Nobody batted an eye,” Roberts said.
And even though his health had been failing recently, Pecorelli, who is survived by four children, still retained his spark.
“He would always light up a room, no matter what,” Roberts said. “Even at the very end, he still had his great big smile, and was still flirting with the nurses.”
Carmine Pecorelli’s funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 24 at Faith Temple Church on Lincolnville Avenue in Belfast. A viewing will be held from 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, March 23 at the Riposta Funeral Home in Belfast.