Encinitas Advocate News

North County Retired U.S. Army Major Al Cocumelli selected for Honor Flight

U.S. Army Major (Ret.) Al Cocumelli will be taking part in the upcoming Honor Flight, May 4-6. Honor Flight San Diego is a nonprofit group that charters two flights per year where 80 WWII veterans fly to Washington D.C. to visit seven war memorials in three days.

Cocumelli served in the Pacific Theater during WWII from 1941-1945. He also served in the Korean War. Cocumelli received three bronze stars from the U.S. Army, one bronze star and a citation from the U.S. Navy. He was also given one of only 14 awards by the government of South Korea. Cocumelli will be the only Honor Flight attendee that has served in both WWII and the Korean War.

When Cocumelli found out that he was going to take part in the trip, his response was, “I am honored and excited to be going.”

The group, accompanied by family members and care guardians, visit WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, Arlington Cemetery for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, Iwo Jima Memorial, Air Force Memorial and then to the Navy Museum at the Navy Yard. All expenses for the veterans are paid for by Honor Flight San Diego.

According to Belmont Village Cardiff Executive Director Sadie Harness, “We are so honored that after nine years at Belmont serving his fellow residents, leading as Resident Council President for four years, and welcoming countless residents into our community, he is being given this opportunity and recognition. He is not a man who likes to brag but keeps all personal accolades to himself. It took some convincing before he agreed to participate. We couldn’t be more proud to know and love this great man.”

Belmont Village Senior Living Cardiff is known for its veteran’s gallery and exhibit. When Cocumelli was photographed for this veteran’s gallery, he told a story of his service, “I entered as a Private and left as a Major, said Cocumelli. “I island-hopped from Guadalcanal to the Philippines. We went to the hills of Luzon to organize Filipino scouts so that they could resist after the U.S. left. That’s when I met General Douglas McArthur. He sent me a rare signed photograph of our meeting. He signed it, “To Capt. Coke many thanks for a superior job- well done.”

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