City officials were honored today to attend the ceremony awarding the Purple Heart to the family of William Weech, who gave 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 the age of 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. He noted, during his remarks, noted that Mr. Weech enlisted ten times.
On September 26, 1918, having just detach 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 just three minutes and 134 men lost their lives, 111 Coastguardsmen and four Navymen.
Capt. Ingram said that this was the single largest loss of life in Coast Guard history.
Ms. Millie Weech addressed the attendees, thanking them for honoring Mr. Weech and thanking all those who serve to protect.
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