SPLIT, Croatia (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe Adm. Harry Ulrich presented a Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously, to the family of Chief Watertender Peter Tomich during a solemn ceremony aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) May 18.
Retired Croatian Army Lt. Col. Srecko Herceg Tonic received the award on behalf of Tomich. Tonic is the grandson of Tomich's cousin John Tonic. Tomich and the elder Tonic immigrated to the United States from what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina on the Croatian border.
Commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Rear Adm. Ray Spicer said it was an honor and privilege to help deliver the medal to Tomich's family in their home country on behalf of the U.S. government.
"Many people on both sides of the Atlantic, including some gathered here today, contributed to the successful conclusion of a long process to present this Medal of Honor to the family of Peter Tomich," Spicer said.
Ulrich agreed, and mentioned the power of Tomich's Croatian heritage.
"Chief Watertender Peter Tomich's selfless heroism and steadfast courage represented the very best of his native country, and his adopted one as well," the admiral said.
Tomich was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on the battleship USS Utah (BB 31) during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941. After sustaining a severe torpedo hit to the hull of the battleship, Tomich returned to his station in the boiler room to evacuate the personnel and shut down the boilers before Utah sank. Tomich sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his shipmates.
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