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First Name: Frank

Last Name: Witek

Birthplace: Derby, CT, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Peter

Date of Birth: 10 December 1921

Date of Death: 03 August 1944

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: 1942-1944
Frank Peter Witek

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Frank Peter Witek

Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private First Class Frank Peter Witek (10 December 1921 - 3 August 1944) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Frank Peter Witek was born on 10 December 1921, in Derby, CT. He was of Polish ancestry. When he was 9, the family moved to Chicago. It was in Chicago that 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 3rd Marine Division 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 out of an original 240 rounds when he was found. For his heroism on 3 August he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

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, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, during the Battle of Finegayen at Guam, Marianas, on 3 August 1944. When his rifle platoon was halted by heavy surprise fire from well-camouflaged enemy positions, Pfc. Witek daringly remained standing to fire a full magazine from his automatic at point-blank range into a depression housing Japanese troops, killing 8 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 machinegun, Pfc. Witek, on his own initiative, moved forward boldly to the reinforcing tanks and infantry, alternately throwing handgrenades and firing as he advanced to within 5 to 10 yards of the enemy position, and destroying the hostile machinegun emplacement and an additional 8 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 Pfc. Witek and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

On Sunday, 20 May 1945, 50,000 people, including Witek's mother, Nora, and Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps, met at Soldier Field in Chicago to honor his memory, and his heroism.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart


In 1946, a Gearing-class greyhound destroyer, the USS Witek (DD-848), was named in honor of PFC Witek. The destroyer was launched on 2 February 1946 and was christened by Witek's mother, Mrs. Nora Witek. The USS Witek was commissioned on 25 April 1946. It was formally de-commissioned on 19 August 1968.

In 1999, Witek's hometown, Derby, CT, named the PFC Frank P. Witek Memorial Park in his honor.

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation awards a memorial scholarship in honor of PFC Frank Witek.

The area near the village of Yona on Guam, where Witek perished, was named Marine Camp Witek. Although the camp closed decades ago, Guam natives still refer to the area as "Camp Witek."

Death and Burial

Private First Class Frank Peter Witek was killed in action on 3 August 1944. Initially buried in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Cemetery on Guam; in 1949, PFC Witek's remains were returned to the U.S. and re-interred at the Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island, IL, in Section E, Row 0, Grave 72.

Honoree ID: 1723   Created by: MHOH




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