John Avolicino

A California WWII veteran who ran the Nuremberg Opera House, which welcomed the likes of Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney, recently turned 103. Now, he’s sharing his tips for a fulfilling life, which include good wine, good food, and a wonderful wife. Sam Avolicino told Fox News Digital, “I’m Italian, so pasta is the first thing that comes to my mind.”

He continued, “I enjoyed my mother’s food for so long. As a kid, I grew up with good homemade pasta, and the Italian custom was that you drank a little wine with water because it’s good for the blood. So maybe that’s an excuse, but it’s okay.” Avolicino also credits his “wonderful wife,” Agnes, to whom he’s been married for nearly 72 years, for his adventurous and long life. He said, “The greatest thing in my life is that I was able to be married for 72 years with my same wife.”

Born in Santa Maria in the Calabria region of southern Italy in 1920, Avolicino immigrated to the United States via Ellis Island when he was three months old. He and his mother landed in New York and took a train to Oakland, California, where they joined his father and other family members already living there. He grew up in the Bay Area and has lived there for over 100 years. Avolicino said that during the war, he volunteered in the Army Air Force. He was a physical training instructor and trained troops while stationed in St. Petersburg, Florida.

@hardcoreitaliansWorld War II Veteran Sam Avolicino, who just turned 103, shared his keys to a long and happy life. ❤️ (? via Today Show)♬ original sound – HardcoreItalians

He said, “My CO wanted to find a person that could lead a yell. Every day, we had training, and we had drills. And I taught them some yells and some songs and things like that.” After attending the School for Physical Training in Miami, Avolicino was transferred to Fresno, California, then Glendale, California, and finally, Fort Dix, where he prepared to go overseas. He said, “I landed in France one day before the war was over.”

Avolicino continued, “So I got reassigned to special services, and my CEO assigned me to the Nuremberg (Nürnberg) Opera House to entertain the troops while we waited to be shipped home.” During his time at the opera house in Germany, which had been taken over by the Americas by the end of the war, Avolicino helped welcome American entertainers like Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Mickey Rooney and the Rockettes, all of whom flew across the globe to perform for the troops. Avolicino even arranged for the first Christmas mass in the opera house, which took place in 1945, as many of the troops were still waiting to go home.

Avolicino’s advice for younger generations is to focus on family and faith. He said, “I recommend all children pick up on God, start to believe in the hereafter and go to church. Pray every night. God’s been the most important person in my life. Respect your parents and listen to your parents. Don’t let outside influences get to you, which is very difficult today.”

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