World War II warriors continue to get the recognition they deserve, and a recent honoree on the big stage in Washington is a former sailor I know.
On Oct. 27 the American Veterans Center saluted Hank Kudzik, a Lehigh Valley man I wrote about in 2010 to mark the 110th anniversary of the Navy’s submarine force.
Hank, of the Lehigh Valley’s Allen Township, was one of four vets to receive the Audie Murphy Award, named after the most decorated soldier of World War II, for their roles in the Battle of Midway.
He was 17 years old and serving aboard the USS Nautilus when the big sub took part in the June 1942 battle in the mid-Pacific. The Nautilus was strafed by Japanese planes, put three torpedoes into the damaged carrier Soryu and was depth-charged by an enemy destroyer.
“We dived to around 200 feet, and that’s when the depth charges came, one right after the other,” Hank told me for my series “War Stories: In Their Own Words” in The Morning Call. “Boom! A few seconds passed and we’d hear another one. Boom! It was the loudest sound I ever heard, scared the hell out of me. The boat shuddered. Light bulbs shattered.”
Hank’s award was presented as part of the Veterans Center’s 15th annual award gala in the ballroom of the Renaissance Washington Hotel.
The others who got the Audie Murphy Award are Ed Fox, a machine gunner on Midway with the 6th Defense Battalion, Fleet Marine Force; John Crawford, an ensign aboard the carrier USS Yorktown; and Albert Grasselli, a Marine Corps aerial navigator.
You can read Hank’s story at http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-5kudzik.7185625apr05,0,7508994.story or in my book, War Stories: In Their Own Words, published last year by The Morning Call, http://morningcallstore.com/warstories. For the American Veterans Center, in Arlington, Va., go to http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/