The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients
Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
FRANK P. WITEK
Private First Class
United States Marine Corps Reserve
Frank P. Witek
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the First Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, during the Battle of Finegayan at Guam, Marianas, on 3 August 1944. When his rifle platoon was halted by heavy surprise fire from well camouflaged enemy positions, Private First Class Witek daringly remained standing to fire a full magazine from his automatic weapon point-blank range into a depression housing Japanese troops, killing eight of the enemy and enabling the greater part of his platoon to take cover. During his platoon's withdrawal for consolidation of lines. he remained to safeguard a severely wounded comrade, courageously returning the enemy's fire until the arrival of stretcher bearers and then covering the evacuation by sustained fire as he moved backward toward his own lines. With his platoon again pinned down by a hostile machine-gun, Private First Class Witek, on his own initiative, moved forward boldly ahead of the reinforcing tanks and infantry, alternately throwing hand grenades and firing as he advanced to within five to ten yards of the enemy position, destroying the hostile machine-gun emplacement and an additional eight Japanese before he, himself, was struck down by an enemy rifleman. His valiant and inspiring action effectively reduced the enemy's fire-power, thereby enabling his platoon to attain its objective, and reflects the highest credit upon Private First Class Witek and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
Private First Class Frank Witek was killed in action on 3 August 1944, in the battle of Finegayan, Guam. He was the 28th Marine to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II.
Frank Peter Witek was born 10 December 1921, in Derby, Connecticut. He was of Polish ancestry. When he was 9, the family moved to Chicago. It was there he finished his student days at Crane Technical High School and went to work at the Standard Transformer Company.
On 20 January 1942, he left for recruit training after enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He left almost immediately for Pearl Harbor and in January 1943, his family heard from him while he was in New Zealand. From there he went to Bougainville where he fought in three major battles. Then he went to Guadalcanal for a rest. On 21 July 1944, the 3d Division Marines invaded Guam. PFC Witek was a Browning automatic rifleman and scout behind the Japanese lines.
On 8 September 1944, his mother received a telegram from Washington informing her that her son had been killed on 3 August. According to a combat correspondent's release, he was slain at the battle of the Mount Santa Rosa road block. He had only eight cartridges left on an original 240 rounds when he was found.
On Sunday, 20 May 1945, 50,000 persons, including his mother and Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, met in Soldier's Field, Chicago, to do honor to his memory. PFC Frank Peter Witek, 23 years old, had earned the highest military award his country could give him - the Medal of Honor.
Footnote: As a tribute to one of our fallen war heroes. One of the Navy's fastest 2400 ton GEARING Class greyhound Destroyers was named in his honor. The Destroyer was launched at the Bath, Maine Iron Works on Saturday, 2 February 1946. Fittingly, the destroyer was christened by Mrs. Nora Witek, mother of the lost hero. The first Captain of the new ship was Commander Nels C. Johnson, USN, who assumed command at the commissioning ceremony at the Boston Navy Yard, on 25 April 1946. The U S S Witek's home port was at the New London Connecticut Naval Base. The U S S Witek was also placed in experimental status working with Research and Development projects involving Naval Electronics and Nuclear Warfare as well as being assigned to Patrols and maneuvers in and around Guantanamo Bay Naval complex. The U S S WITEK was formally de-commissioned on 19 August 1968 and was struck from the Navy list 17 September 1968. The ship was later sunk by Naval Gunfire.
USS Witek DD848
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