Specialist 4th Class Richard “Richie” Pecci was born on May 24, 1946 in Queens. At 18, he received his draft card and was called up a year later, in 1965, to start his training.
SPC Pecci excelled at basic training, achieving a near-perfect score of 598 out of 600. He was chosen for a new unit called the Delta Troop 3/17th Air Cavalry. This highly specialized unit combined both air and ground troops for more efficient enemy search and destroy missions. SPC Pecci completed his training at Fort Knox, and in 1967, he was deployed to Vietnam. Landing at the port city of Qui Nhon, just south of Saigon, SPC Pecci began his 11-month deployment as a sharpshooter.
The Air Cavalry’s primary mission was to search, destroy and provide convoy protection. Due to his expert skills, SPC Pecci would be often assigned to solo missions on the ground in war zones, alone, sometimes for multiple days at a time. During his deployment, SPC Pecci was often under fire, including a mortar attack, which resulted in some hearing loss and damage to his eardrum. In recognition of his service, SPC Pecci was awarded a Citation for the TET Offensive.
After completion of his service and formal discharge, SPC Pecci realized the importance of having a community for veterans to come home to. He participates in the Memorial Day Parade every year in Hastings-on-Hudson, where he and his wife, Linda, are longtime residents. He has also coordinated memorials in the Village, most recently the designation of Hastings-on-Hudson as a Purple Heart
SPC Pecci currently serves as the Commander of the American Legion in Hastings and is retired from the New York Times, where he worked for over 35 years.