Peter Tomich

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Peter Tomich
Petar Herceg 'Tonić'
Peter Tomich.jpg
Chief Watertender Peter Tomich
Born (1893-06-03)June 3, 1893
Prolog, Austria-Hungary
Died December 7, 1941(1941-12-07) (aged 48)
KIA at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
United States Navy
Years of service 1917 – 1919 (Army)
1919 – 1941 (Navy)
Rank Chief Watertender (Navy)
Unit USS Litchfield (DD-336)
USS Utah (BB-31)
Battles/wars Attack on Pearl Harbor
Awards Medal of Honor

Petar Herceg 'Tonić' (Anglicized as Peter Tomich) (June 3, 1893 – December 7, 1941) was a United States Navy sailor who received the United States military's highest award, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in World War II.[1]

Biography[edit]

Tomich was an ethnic Croat of Bosnia and Herzegovina born as Petar Herceg, with family nickname 'Tonić', in Prolog near Ljubuški, Austria-Hungary, today Bosnia and Herzegovina. He immigrated to the United States in 1913, and joined the US Army in 1917.[2]

World War I[edit]

Tomich served in the US Army during World War I, and enlisting in the US Navy in 1919, where he initially served on the destroyer USS Litchfield (DD-336).[1]

World War II[edit]

Petar Tomich's Medal of Honor, awarded by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By 1941, he had become a chief watertender on board the training and target ship USS Utah.[1] On December 7, 1941, while the ship lay in Pearl Harbor, moored off Ford Island, she was torpedoed during Japan's raid on Pearl Harbor.[1] Tomich was on duty in a boiler room. As Utah began to capsize, he remained below, securing the boilers and making certain that other men escaped, and so lost his life.[1] For his "distinguished conduct and extraordinary courage" at that time, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor.[1] His Medal of Honor was on display at the Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy (Tomich Hall).[1] Later, the decoration was presented to Tomich's family on the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier in the southern Adriatic city of Split in Croatia, on 18 May 2006, sixty-four years after US President Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded it to him.[3]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

"For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the U.S.S. Utah, until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life."[4]

Namesake[edit]

The destroyer escort USS Tomich (DE-242), 1943–1974, was named in honor of Chief Watertender Tomich.[5] The United States Navy Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, RI is named Tomich Hall in honor of Chief Watertender Tomich.[6] The Steam Propulsion Training Facility at Service School Command Great Lakes is named in honor of Chief Watertender Tomich.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hagan, John (2004). Chief Petty Officer's Guide. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-459-0.