City officials were honored to attend the ceremony awarding the Purple Heart to William Weech's family, who made the ultimate sacrifice during his service in the United States Coast Guard.
The ceremony was held at American Legion Post 168. The medal was presented to Ms. Millie Weech and her brother Antonio Weech by USCG Sector Key West Commander Capt. Jason Ingram and USCG Sector Key West Command Master Chief Matthew Jordan.
William Weech was born in Key West in 1887 and enlisted in the Coast Guard at 17. He was promoted to Wardroom Steward and, in 1912, was transferred to the USCGC TAMPA.
Capt. Ingram told the Weech family – including those attending virtually from New York, that the honor was long overdue. During his remarks, he noted that Mr. Weech enlisted ten times.
On September 26, 1918, having just detached from her 19th convoy, the TAMPA was torpedoed by a German submarine as she was returning to a Welsh port. The TAMPA was one of six Coast Guard cutters assigned to convoy duty in European waters during WWI. She escorted 18 convoys, losing only two ships and earning a special commendation for exemplary service.
The cutter sank in three minutes, and 134 men lost their lives, 111 Coastguardsmen and four Navymen.
Capt. Ingram said this was the largest loss of life in Coast Guard history.
Ms. Millie Weech addressed the attendees, thanking them for honoring Mr. Weech and thanking all who served to protect them.
|Commissioner Clayton Lopez, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, Police Chief Sean Brandenburg, and Mayor Teri Johnston.
|Glenn Hayes, USCG Sector Key West Commander Capt. Jason Ingram, Mayor Teri Johnston, American Legion Post 168 Commander Valerie Littlefield, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, Commissioner Clayton Lopez, and USCG Commander Richard Armstrong.
|USCG Capt. Jason Ingram, Ms. Millie Weech, Antonio Weech, and USCG Sector Key West Command Master Chief Matthew Jordan.