Giving back to the nation is a story repeated often in our history. Immigrants arriving on our nation’s shores have always answered the call for military service during periods of national emergency. Frank P. Witek was one of these fine young Americans.
Born in Derby, Connecticut on 10 December 1921, Witek was an American of Polish ancestry. His family relocated to Chicago, Illinois when Frank was nine-years-old and he eventually graduated from Crane Technical School with training as an electrician. Within thirty days of Japan’s attack upon the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Witek enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Following recruit training, Witek was ordered to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for additional training with the Third Marine Division. Now serving as a Browning Automatic Rifleman (BAR man), Witek accompanied the division to New Zealand and underwent pre-deployment training. During the Battle of Bougainville, Frank Witek participated in three separate engagements. Subsequently, the division was withdrawn and ordered to Guadalcanal for rest, recuperation, and refitting.
In July 1944, the 3rd Marine Division invaded Guam.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS FRANK P. WITEK
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
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 at 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 his weapon as he advanced to within five to ten yards of the enemy position, destroying a 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 firepower, 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
At the time of his death, Frank Witek was 23 years old. He gave back to America all that he had to give.
Initially buried at the Army, Navy, Marine Corps cemetery on Guam, PFC Witek’s remains were transferred to the Rock Island National Cemetery in Illinois in 1949.