WWII Veteran Finally Being Recognized for Saving Hundreds of Lives in New York City

NEW YORK – A World War II veteran will be awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal for selfless heroic actions which resulted in saving hundreds of lives in New York City. The ceremony will be held at the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum Tues., Nov. 11, 2008, at 10 a.m.

Seaman 2nd Class Seymour Wittek is being cited for his outstanding achievement on April 24, 1943 aboard the S.S.El Elestero. While preparing to depart on holiday liberty as a member of the munitions detail assigned to the Jersy City Barracks, a fire broke out. Without hesitation he volunteered to help control and extinguish it. Upon arriving on scene Seaman Wittek, with fellow Coast Guardsmen courageously boarded the vessel to fight a fire that was out of control and threated to ignite more than 1,300 tons of explosives on board and threatened to ignite the 5,000 tons of ordinance and explosives on surrounding ships and the pier. Once aboard, he went to work pulling lines up from the surrounding water pumps and fire boats as his fellow Coast Guardsmen and the New York and New Jersey Firemen doused the flames with water.

Witteks selfless act prevented a disaster that would have resulted in an astronomical loss of life, damage to the surrounding New York port and a detrimental impact on munitions deliveries in the European Theater.

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