Coast Guard hero Seymour Wittek buried in Queens

Seymour Wittek, 88, of Ossining, N.Y., a World War II veteran who, with fellow shipmates, extinguished a fire aboard a ship laden with explosives that threatened people and property in New York City in 1943, was buried today with full military honors at the Old Montefiore Cemetery, in Queens, N.Y.

Wittek, a Seaman 2nd Class at the time, and Coast Guard comrades voluntarily boarded the burning S.S. El Estero – a freighter destined to re-supply U.S. troops in the European Theater – which was carrying 1,365 tons of high explosive block buster bombs, depth charges and various other explosives, after it caught fire while moored in Bayonne, N.J., April 24, 1943.

Wittek was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Nov. 11, 2008, by Coast Guard Vice Admiral Robert Papp, at the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, for his bravery and selfless dedication to save civilians, property, sailors and supplies that directly impacted U.S. forces’ progress in the European Theater, and for epitomizing what many would consider the ethics of a hero and a Coast Guardsman.

NEW YORK - Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce salutes the casket of Seymour Wittek during military honors at Wittek's burial in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens

NEW YORK - Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce salutes the casket of Seymour Wittek during military honors at Wittek's burial in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens

NEW YORK-Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Devito folds the American Flag before it is presented to the family of Seymour Wittek at Montefiore Cemetery, Dec. 31, 2009.

NEW YORK-Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Devito folds the American Flag before it is presented to the family of Seymour Wittek at Montefiore Cemetery, Dec. 31, 2009.

NEW YORK-The folded American flag that had draped over Seymour Wittek's casket during military honors is passed to Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce for presentation to Wittek's family at Montefiore Cemetery, Dec. 31, 2009.

NEW YORK-The folded American flag that had draped over Seymour Wittek's casket during military honors is passed to Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce for presentation to Wittek's family at Montefiore Cemetery, Dec. 31, 2009.

NEW YORK-Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce presents the American flag to Jacqueline Goldstein during military honors at Wittek's burial in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, N.Y., Dec. 31, 20009.

NEW YORK-Coast Guard Captain Daniel Croce presents the American flag to Jacqueline Goldstein during military honors at Wittek's burial in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, N.Y., Dec. 31, 20009.

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