At first glance he might seem like just another retiree with nothing better to do than show up at city commission chambers and claim two minutes of speaking time on the "issue of the day" .... no matter how mundane.
But Del Vecchio is a little more complicated than that: He's a retired attorney and self-described "activist" who lives on the southern tip of Miami Beach.
A little over a year ago, Del Vecchio managed to rankle Philip Levine, Miami Beach's notoriously thin-skinned mayor, by sending out an email blast to friends that called Levine "unethical."
Now Del Vecchio has written a book that explores the roots of his activism.
In an email to his friends, Del Vecchio writes: "As a young Navy pilot on weekend leave, I witnessed the demolition of my childhood Boston neighborhood and the cruel displacement of its immigrant community. I decided to go to law school and learn how the levers of power work. The memoir is the story of a street kid growing up in the Depression/World War II years, attending college on a Navy scholarship, flying off aircraft carriers, then law school and activism in the politics of Boston and Washington, D.C. in the turbulent 60s."
I asked Del Vecchio to send me a few excerpts from his book.
Here's one that's titled "Hot Cat Pilot."
My self-image was a fearless street kid. As a Naval Aviator I had found the perfect stage on which to play that role. On the Roosevelt, I volunteered to be the “hot cat” pilot.
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The hot cat pilot was the first line of defense for our Fast Carrier Task Force - Carrier Division Two, Sixth Fleet. At night, when most of the crew, exhausted by daytime flight operations, were sacked out below decks, the hot cat pilot was entrusted to protect the carrier and all the ships in the task force. He sat in a fully armed interceptor that was positioned on the steam catapult, plugged in to the auxiliary power unit (APU), all systems activated, ready for the launch order. The instruments were illuminated in a soft red glow that preserved his night vision. The carrier deck was dark and quiet except for the starboard green running light and red to port. The bow spray sometimes churned up luminescent sea creatures.
I was in my element. I wore a red bandana around my neck, ready to perform, to play a role, to show off. That was me – the eager kid in the classroom always shooting up his hand before the teacher even finished asking the question, the youngster wearing a straw hat and twirling a walking stick, singing “The Yellow Rose of Texas” at a Settlement House talent night. Now, the only eyes that were on me were those of the Captain on the bridge, and the flight deck sailors ready to fire up the Demon’s Allison J71 turbojet engine.