94-year-old veteran skydives to honor other veterans

94-year-old veteran skydives

SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - Albert Mancinelli is very quick to make known that when he strapped on a jumpsuit and parachuted in July, he didn't do it for the attention. When he hurled his 94-year-old body out of an airplane at 14,000 ft, he didn't do it so his name would end up in the paper.

"I did it for all the Airborne people, dead and alive. I want that understood," Mancinelli is quick to point out.

On Sunday, Mancinelli delivered a baseball he jumped with onto the field at the American Legion World Series in Shelby.

"It just brings back a lot of memories, and I just think those guys need a little bit of notoriety," Mancinelli said.

The Shelby resident joined the Army in the heat of World War II, just as he turned 18. When he found out the Army was looking for Airborne men, he volunteered himself for training. In 1945, Mancinelli's 464th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion made a jump into Germany during combat. Several of the men who jumped with him didn't make it.

"Their group landed in trees and they had gunner placements down there on the ground, machine guns," Mancinelli recalled. He landed about 500 yards away from the fallen troops in an open field.

"I had a lot of open holes in my parachute, but none hit me. I could hear them come by just like bees," Mancinelli said.

After his military experience, Mancinelli didn't jump out of another airplane until 2012 for his 90th birthday. This July, he was bent on doing it again - this time to honor veterans of his field.

Mancinelli strapped up in tandem with an instructor at Skydive Carolina. Two miles above the earth's surface, he was in a free-fall he describes as amazing.

"You just can't imagine what it looks like from up there... It's beautiful. I wish everybody could see the good work that God made," he said.

The endeavor was videotaped and played before Sunday's game at the American Legion World Series.

Mancinelli said he'd jump again if given the chance, but doesn't know if he'll have time. Shortly after his jump in July, doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer.

"They gave me five months to a year to live," Mancinelli said.

With a smile he suggests his diagnosis won't stop him from living his final days to the fullest.

"I'll take it as it comes and leave it to the good Lord," he said. "That's all I can say."

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