More than three-quarters of a century later, half a world away from where he was injured fighting a global war on a foreign beach, Onofrio “No-No” Zicari finally received his due.
Zicari, an Army private who stormed France’s Normandy coast on D-Day, June 6, 1944, was presented in Las Vegas with the prestigious Purple Heart for being wounded in action.
The 98-year-old Las Vegas resident received the military decoration by the U.S. Army in June. But he came to city council chambers on Wednesday to be ceremoniously pinned at the start of the government’s biweekly meeting.
“You are a hero and a star,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said.
Several active military personnel and veterans were in attendance to congratulate Zicari.
“I never knew I had so many friends,” he joked, standing at the podium with Goodman and the rest of the city council. “I’m just overwhelmed with everybody here and I wish us all good luck and God bless you.”
Zicari has been a frequent subject of stories in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reflecting on his service during World War II and his return trip to Normandy two years ago to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
As part of the 5th Amphibious Brigade and the fifth wave to descend on Omaha Beach, he suffered shrapnel wounds in his knee and shoulder. The medic who cared for his knee was killed roughly an hour later. Zicari believes his name was Fisk.
For decades, Zicari’s injuries were undocumented. While it’s not clear how the Army came to rectify what Goodman described as a decadeslong “oversight,” the city cited “many coming together to assist him” including the mayor’s office which helped to bring attention to the matter.
A draftee from Geneva, New York, Zicari was pinned down on the beach by German troops and artillery after being injured. He returned to Normandy for eight days in June 2019 with help from the Tennessee-based nonprofit Forever Young Senior Veterans.
Following his service, which included fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, Zicari was a milk delivery man in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots in 1992. He is fond of woodworking projects, cooking, fishing and playing cards.
“But more importantly significant is that he is a treasured American hero,” Goodman said.
Beyond receiving admiration for his long-overdue Purple Heart, Zicari was also named the city’s citizen of the month for October.