Santi (Sammy) Mirabelli, the oldest member of the Soo World War I Drum and Bugle Corps, who with a small handful of his remaining fellow veterans went to France 10 years ago to help keep the memory of the Armistice alive, died Friday in a nearby veterans hospital. He was 96.
A native of Italy, Mirabelli served with the Army in Europe during World War I as, as he often put it, “a much unappreciated cook.”
“Sammy was the spirit of our outfit,” said drum corps Cmdr. Oral LaCombe. “He was the only one who knew all of the old military drum tunes; not just drum rolls and signals, but actual tunes.”
The Drum and Bugle Corps originally numbered more than 20. In 1978, the 16 still living at that time paid a nostalgic return visit to some French battlefields. With Mirabelli’s death, the corps now numbers five.