Frank P. Witek


PFC Frank P. Witek is the only Derby resident ever decorated with the highest military honor our country can bestow - The Congressional Medal of Honor. The City of Derby officially dedicated the former water company property in his memory May 29, 1999. Witek was born in Derby on December 10, 1921. Though he only lived in Derby for the first ten years of his life and later lived in Illinois, he considered Derby his home and listed it as such on his official military records.

The official story of Witek's gallantry is simply, but elegantly recorded in the official citation:

CITATION: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st 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 rifle 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 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.

Click here to learn more about the park that now bears his name. 

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