Achille J. Vicoli, 88, decorated WW II vet

Achille J. Vicoli
Achille J. Vicoli
Posted: April 04, 2013

Achille Joseph Vicoli, 88, of Newtown Square, a businessman and decorated World War II veteran, died Saturday, March 30, of cardiac arrest at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Vicoli was a first-generation American born to Nicholas and Antonette Lonzi Vicoli from Montenero di Bisaccio in Italy.

He grew up in South Philadelphia and was a member of St. Monica's Parish. By age 18, Mr. Vicoli managed the construction of airplane wings for the riveting department of Keller Autogyro, an aviation company in Philadelphia.

In October 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He left his home on South 17th Street to undergo training at Fort Knox, Ky., and went on to Fort Meade, Md.

He was shipped to Liverpool, England, and became part of the invasion of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 12, 1944, six days after D-Day. He was a tank crewman with Company A 743d Tank Battalion.

During two years, two months, and 22 days of service, he participated in the Battle of Normandy, and military campaigns in northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and central Europe, according to his discharge papers.

Mr. Vicoli was honorably discharged Jan. 7, 1946, and received commendations, including a Good Conduct Medal, and a European African Middle Eastern Campaign Theater Service Medal with five bronze stars.

An Army buddy of Mr. Vicoli's, writing in the Sunday Bulletin Magazine in 1962, said the 743d Tank Battalion's Army code name was "Verify."

Wayne Robinson wrote of how the 743d landed on the shore of the English Channel to face the Germans' guns. It "spearheaded across France and Germany to the no-advance line at the Elbe" River.

When Mr. Vicoli returned home, he went to school on the GI Bill for cosmetology. He built a beautician's business with a series of shops in Philadelphia, before retiring in the mid-1980s.

The shops were at 58th and Thomas, 46th and Chestnut, on City Line near St. Joseph's College, and on Conshohocken State Road. Each one was called Kel's Beauty Salon, and as one closed, the next opened.

"Every one was an improvement over the last one," said his wife, Marie Kennedy-Sweeney Vicoli.

The two met while attending separate social events at the Alpine Inn on Baltimore Pike in Springfield.

He belonged to Unico National, the Italian-American Club, and was treasurer of the Brandywine Construction Company.

He loved to travel, visiting Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, Ireland, and Las Vegas. He also enjoyed gardening, riding his tractor, woodworking, and acting as general contractor in the building of his home.

"Our home was known as the party house," his wife said. "We used to have weddings, and baby showers, and christenings in the backyard."

In addition to his wife of 38 years, he is survived by son Gary; daughter Diane Vicoli; stepchildren Jim Sweeney, PJ Sweeney, and Michael Sweeney; 19 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Three of his four sisters died earlier.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 4, at St. Anastasia Church, 3301 W. Chester Pike, Newtown Square. A viewing starts at 10 a.m. Interment is in SS Peter and Paul Cemetery.

Contributions may be made to the Fisher House Foundation, 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, Md. 20850, or via www.fisherhouse.org. The foundation helps wounded veterans returning from overseas and also their families.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook

at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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