Medal of Honor Recipient PFC Frank P. Witek
of Honor Recipient PFC Frank P. Witek Memorial Park is a 144 acre park
on the east side of the city on property that was formerly a reservoir.
It was one of the earliest settled areas of the city dating back to the
1600's. In 1859, the burgeoning Borough of Derby on the west side of
town needed a stable water supply and the Birmingham Water Company
bought the land in the area which was mostly meadows and farm land. They
dammed the brooks in the area to create the reservoirs which they
continued to own and utilize until selling it to the City in 1997.
On May 29, 1999 the city dedicated
the park in honor of PFC Witek. In addition to two beautiful ponds, the complex also contains trails for
walking and hiking. On September 16, 2006 the City officially opened
two new soccer fields on part of the property.
Click here for more on that ceremony.
Take a video tour of the park by viewing this video:
Permits are no longer
required for the use of the park, but they are required for use of the
soccer fields. Please enjoy the beauty of the park
and respect the posted rules for
PFC Frank P. Witek
|The City of Derby officially dedicated the former water company
property in memory of PFC Frank P. Witek who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery
in battle during World War II on 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. In
taking the action, Mayor Marc Garofalo urged all Derby citizens to remember PFC Witek and
all Derby veterans for their actions. Veteran groups in the community had brought PFC
Witek's incredible story of gallantry in battle to the attention of city officials and
urged them to honor him by naming the 144 acres of open space park land on the east side
of town in honor of Witek.
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 on picture for a larger image.
For Witek Park
HOURS OF OPERATION ARE DAWN TO DUSK.
THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES ARE PROHIBITED:
Carrying firearms or weapons
Drinking alcoholic beverages
Driving motorized vehicles including, but not limited to,
motorbikes and ATVs
Removing or damaging trees and other vegetation
Removing wildlife other than fish and eels
Feeding the wildlife
The city is also blessed with the Osbornedale State Park
on the west side of town.
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