World War II Vet Racks up Free Meals Thanks to Special Cap

OAKLEY -- Enrico "Rico" Cinquini has found a ticket to a free meal when he goes out for a bite to eat in East Contra Costa: Wear his U.S. Marine Corps cap.

Cinquini, 93, a World War II veteran who survived some of the fiercest battles in the Pacific during the war, says he started wearing his Marines cap about a year ago when going out to eat. Before he knew it, people started picking up the tab for his meals, in gratitude for his service to his country.

Cinquini, though, never gets to thank his benefactors. He only learns about the good deeds when he goes to pay his check.

"I'd like to know who bought them," Cinquini said. "They just say someone bought you dinner."

Cinquini says he's collected 13 free meals since he began wearing the cap out to eat.

With or without the cap, Cinquini is no stranger around Oakley. He's lived there since 1946, when he returned from the war and opened a Rexall Drug Store. He later became a successful Realtor and community leader, helping pave the way for the city's incorporation in 1999. He was recently recognized as the Assembly District 11 Veteran of the Year.

Not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, Cinquini plans to continue showing off his Semper Fi past when dining out.

"I'm going to get a bigger hat," he said, laughing. ___

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