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Nassau County family awarded Purple Heart for their late Navy veteran relative

Douglas Olitsky was doing some research for a family reunion when he came across a piece of paper with a story about his grandfather - a Navy veteran who was in Iwo Jima during World War II.

News 12 Staff

May 27, 2024, 9:25 PM

Updated 20 days ago

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A Nassau County family received a Purple Heart in Seacliff this Memorial Day for their late Navy veteran relative.
Clifton Park was draped in red, white and blue as more than 200 people took the time to pay their respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice - and some whose acts of heroism were almost lost to time itself.
Douglas Olitsky was doing some research for a family reunion when he came across a piece of paper with a story about his grandfather - a Navy veteran who was in Iwo Jima during World War II.
"Getting injured, being pulled out on a ship and the ship getting hit, and then he jumped out of the ship to get the people that were knocked off, that were drowing, and pull them back on," said Douglas Olitsky, grandson of William Olitsky.
Douglas Olitsky then reached out to Rep. Tom Suozzi when they discovered William Olitsky, of Hicksville, had been awarded a Purple Heart.
It was then bestowed on his family on Monday.
"We can't forget the great sacrifices that have been made throughout our nation's history, and to remember soldiers that died in battles we won and battles we lost," Suozzi said.
"Fortunately, we have a historian here in our family who just made sure that the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren will all know about their grandfather," said Jewel Umansky, William Olitsky's Daughter.
She added that her father would not be one to talk too much about this kind of honor, saying that it was a sense of community, both on Long Island and in the military, that was truly important to him.
"He was a very generous person with his time. He would just make friends with a lot of people," Umansky said.
Now nearly 40 years after his death, William Olitsky's story will live on.
"It was really an incredible story to find out 79 years later, and passing it on to my daughter, and my nephews and nieces so they have a story," Douglas Olitsky said.
In addition to the Purple Heart, Suozzi awarded the family seven other medals and honors they discovered Olitsky had earned during his military service.


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