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 »  Home  »  Croatian Heroes  »  Peter Tomich 1893-1941 recipient of the Medal of Honor for his courage at Pearl Harbour in 1941
 »  Home  »  Croatian Life Stories  »  Peter Tomich 1893-1941 recipient of the Medal of Honor for his courage at Pearl Harbour in 1941
 »  Home  »  Awards  »  Peter Tomich 1893-1941 recipient of the Medal of Honor for his courage at Pearl Harbour in 1941
Peter Tomich 1893-1941 recipient of the Medal of Honor for his courage at Pearl Harbour in 1941
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  12/2/2018 | Croatian Heroes , Croatian Life Stories , Awards | Unrated
Peter Tomich's Sacrifice Saved Hundreds Of Lives At Pearl Harbor

Petak, 7. prosinca 2018. u 18 sati
Dom OSRH 'Zvonimir'

Svečana premijera dokumentarnog filma 'Heroji se ne zaboravljaju'

Simfonijski orkestar HRT-a
Olja Dešić, dirigent

Hrvatska radiotelevizija (HRT) uz sudjelovanje Simfonijskog orkestra HRT-a organizira svečanu premijeru dokumentarnog filma 'Heroji se ne zaboravljaju'.

Za film, proizveden u Dokumentarnim sadržajima Hrvatske televizije (HTV), glazbu je skladao Nenad Bach, a pod ravnanjem maestra Alana Bjelinskog originalnu skladbu snimio je Simfonijski orkestar HRT-a. Film govori o Petru Hercegu Tomiću, u SAD-u poznatom kao Petar Tomich, američkom junaku hrvatskog podrijetla, koji je žrtvujući vlastiti život prilikom japanskog napada na Pearl Harbour 7. prosinca 1941. spasio živote nekoliko stotina mornara s broda USS Utah. Za svoj junački čin, u kojem je izgubio život, Tomich je posmrtno odlikovan najvišim američkim odlikovanjem za hrabrost Medaljom časti, koju dodjeljuje Vlada Sjedinjenih Američkih Država. I koliko god bio uzbudljiv život i smrt ovog hrvatskog iseljenika, toliko je bila uzbudljiva i potraga za njegovim potomcima kojima bi se medalja uručila. Poslije gotovo desetljeća potrage i dokazivanja, pa čak i sudskih postupaka, umirovljeni američki kontraadmiral Robert Lunney našao je Tomicheve potomke u Prologu u Hercegovini.

Redatelj filma je Ištvan Filaković, scenaristi su Vladimir Brnardić i Nenad Bach, direktor fotografije Dražen Lipka, a montažer Mladen Radaković.

Svečanu premijeru dokumentarca 'Heroji se ne zaboravljaju' u petak 7. prosinca u 18 sati u Domu OSRH 'Zvonimir' uveličat će Simfonijski orkestar HRT-a koji će pod ravnanjem Olje Dešića tom prigodom izvesti originalnu filmsku glazbu Nenada Bacha.

Film u trajanju od 52 minute moći će vidjeti svi gledatelji HRT-a u subotu, 8. prosinca na televizijskom Prvom programu (HRT -€“ HTV1) u 13 sati i 15 minuta.

Symphonic Orchestra of Croatian Radio Television with Nenad Bach

Circle of Honor - Gens Una Sumus - Trailer - J. Robert Lunney Story

Circle of Honor Trailer - J. Robert Lunney Story. Leadership by example. Peter Tomich, Medal of Honor. Croatia, USA, Korea, Japan. Trailer for the film to be finished.


Director/Producer: Nenad Bach

Director of Photography: Zvonimir Z Vidusin Format: DVC Pro HD 1080i 60p

Camera: Panasonic AJ-HDX900.

So far, the filmmakers have shot ten 30-minute rolls of high definition tape in which they interview Rear Admiral Lunney at length. These rolls have been converted to computer files. Filming took place in Bronxville, NY, in Lunney's house. Many photos, News clips, maps etc. from his past have also been shot and scanned.

Also agreed upon but not yet filmed: an interview with the President of Croatia. Another possible interview subject is the President of South Korea.

At this point, we are seeking a director/producer or an independent editor to finish the film.

The film could then be sold to the History Channel, the Military Channel, Croatian National TV, Korean National TV, and independent stations worldwide.


Medal of Honor is a film about double heroism. One hero, Peter Tomich, made an instant decision that cost him his life but saved hundreds of others. He won the Medal of Honor. Another man, Robert Lunney, worked for nine years and spent thousands of dollars to find a rightful home for the Medal. We think others will be inspired and uplifted by these brave men and their interlinked stories. No matter what the time and place, even in the "greed is good" era, you can always find humble people who act with nobility. Peter Tomich and Robert Lunney are two such individuals, and their achievements are worth celebrating. The two share that silent understanding and interdependence that exist among those who have sailed the seas, and their stories bring honor and modesty back to the mainstream.

This film is important for Croatia, Korea, the USA and all who seek inspiration or "leadership by example."

1. Leadership by example.

2. Forgiveness.

3. Justice and honor.

These are the words so rarely seen on today's TV. This film has all of them. Every Elementary and High School student should see it.

Interview of Admiral Robert J. Lunney. He is talking about his life, about leadership with an example, about his life in the Navy during the WW2, Iwo Jima, forgotten war in Korea, Guinness Book of Records biggest rescue on a single ship.

Medal of Honor, given to Croatian American Peter Tomich, that finally found a home after more then 60 years. Event on May 18th 2006...his beliefs.

Interviewers: Josip Bogovic and Nenad Bach for CROWN ( )

CROWN / Nenad Bach Music Ltd producer: Nenad Bach & Josip Bogovic

Peter Tomich and the USS Utah Memorial

Peter Tomich's Sacrifice Saved Hundreds Of Lives At Pearl Harbor

Michael Mink

Peter Tomich always answered the Navy's call. For most of his adult life, it was his only family. And when it came time to risk his life to save his shipmates, he did so unhesitatingly.

Tomich (1893-1941) was one of 15 men who received the Medal of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration - for his actions during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.

On that day 75 years ago, the attack took 2,400 American lives including Tomich's. Nineteen ships of the Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, and it brought the U.S. into World War II.

Doug Sterner, a military historian and founder of the "Home of Heroes" website, said "at age 48, Tomich had almost 23 years of naval experience. During that time the Navy became his life, wife and family. His next of kin, the sailors he worked with."

Tomich's Medal of Honor citation reads: "For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor"

"Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Chief Watertender Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the USS Utah until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fire room personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life."

Kris Harper, an educational consultant who works with Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, told IBD, "Peter understood the ramifications of the ocean water hitting the hot boilers. He had to have known the size of the explosion would have been devastating, not only to the Utah, but the surrounding area, as well. Hundreds of lives would have been lost.

"He put his duty ahead of everything else. He displayed uncommon courage in the choice he made to protect his shipmates and his ship at the expense of his own life."

Among the other honors Tomich has received, the destroyer escort USS Tomich was named for him and operated from 1943-1946. The Peter Tomich Power Plant was dedicated in 1987 at the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill. The Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, R.I., is housed in Tomich Hall, so named in 1989.

Shipmate Leonard Purifoy, who was in the engine room with Tomich at the time of the attack, said in 2001 to Thomas O'Brien in an article for the U.S. Naval Institute that the chief was "a real good man (Tomich) always took care of his crew first. He was real good at his job and at showing the rest of us the right way to do things."

Shipmate Lee Soucy added that Tomich was a "conscientious guy who went down to check on his boys and the equipment" instead of escaping.

Trek To The U.S.

Born Petar Herceg Tonic in Prolog, in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tomich immigrated to the United States in 1912. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in June 1917 during World War I, but never saw combat. When his 18 months were up, 10 days later he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, in January 1919. He'd become a U.S. citizen in 1918.

Tomich worked his way up the ranks. By 1941 he was a chief watertender, equivalent to a chief petty officer, and responsible for a ship's powerful boilers. The position required a detailed knowledge of the piping in the engine room and an understanding of the pressure gauges, "the nuances of the machinery that kept the ship in operation," Sterner said. "Tomich was one of the most experienced and best in the entire Pacific Fleet."

Tomich was assigned to the USS Utah, a former destroyer converted into a training and target ship.

That Dec. 7 morning at Pearl Harbor started as picturesque and tranquil. U.S. intelligence didn't believe a Japanese attack from 4,000 miles away was feasible, Sterner said. It was thought to be a day of rest and relaxation for the fleet. Key battle stations were not manned, weapons and ammunition were locked up. Many military personnel were sleeping in, and several top commanders were ashore.

That Day Of Infamy

Then at 7:55 a.m. that tranquillity was shattered. The first wave of about 350 Japanese aircraft, taking off from aircraft carriers that had crept undetected to within a few hundred miles of Hawaii, made their appearance in the sky.

The attack had been meticulously practiced and prepared for by the Japanese. The Utah, moored off Ford Island, wasn't a planned target, as the Japanese knew the ship was an old noncombat vessel and didn't want to waste torpedoes and bombs on it.

Despite that, the Utah was one of the first ships hit. The Japanese are believed to have mistaken it for the aircraft carrier Enterprise, which was supposed to be moored there.

Two torpedoes hit the Utah and it began flooding quickly. The ship's senior officer, Lt. Commander S.S. Isquith, ordered all hands on deck. As crewmen raced up from below deck, Tomich raced down to the boiler room.

Rising To The Occasion

"Tomich, ever mindful of his (engineering) crew, ran to warn them of the impending doom and to issue an order to evacuate," Sterner wrote. " 'Get out,' he yelled above the horrible noises around him. (Tomich) could feel the ship slowly turning on its side and knew that in moments any hope of escape would vanish. He had to get his men ... out of danger. 'Get topside! Go ... the ship is turning over! You have to escape now!' He ignored his own evacuation order and set himself to the job that had to be done."

Unless the boilers were secured, they'd rupture and explode, killing hundreds of escaping sailors.

"Peter understood his job and the risks involved when he purposefully and voluntarily stayed behind, while sending his men to safety," Harper said. "Closing those valves would surely have been easier, and quicker, had he had help. He protected these men from the very real possibility of a slow and painful death while assuming that risk himself."

Sterner said that Tomich "calmly moved from valve to valve setting the gauges, releasing steam here and there, and stabilizing and securing the huge boilers that otherwise would have turned the entire ship into a massive inferno no man could survive, on the ship or near it."

By the time he'd completed his duties, Tomich was trapped inside the capsized ship.

The Utah's rusting hull still lies in Pearl Harbor, a portion of it above water. Fifty-eight men including Tomich were entombed, where it is an official military water grave.

The Long Journey Home

But Tomich's story didn't end there, as there was no family member to be found to present his Medal of Honor to, despite Navy attempts to find one.

In January 1944, Tomich's Medal of Honor was presented to the commander of the USS Tomich, where it was displayed onboard pending the location of a relative.

After the ship was decommissioned in 1946, the medal was displayed in the Utah State Capitol Building with its USS Utah memorial. Tomich was also made an honorary citizen there. The medal was loaned back to the Navy in 1963 and then donated in 1978. It's been displayed at the Navy Museum in Washington, D.C., ever since.

For 64 years, there was no blood relative to receive Tomich's medal. The Medal of Honor Society says it was the only Medal of Honor to go unclaimed since the 1880s.

In 1997 the CMHS teamed up with J. Robert Lunney, a retired read admiral in the New York Naval Militia who had been researching Tomich's case and genealogy, to find Tomich's heirs. Lunney traveled to Tomich's European homeland to conduct research at his expense. He enlisted the Croatian Genealogical Society for help.

Lunney turned his completed findings over to the secretary of the Navy for verification, which turned out to be a lengthy process. Finally on May 18, 2006, a replica of Tomich's Medal of Honor was presented to a living verified relative, Croatian Army Lt. Col. (ret) Srecko Herceg Tonic, in a ceremony off the coast of Split, Croatia, and on the USS Enterprise.

U.S. Navy Admiral Harry Ulrich made the presentation, and stated in the ceremony:

"It is all too rare that we see the act of one man become the passion and spirit of many. But, so it has become of Peter Tomich - whose character and devotion to his shipmates compelled him to make the ultimate sacrifice.

"His valor inspires us to this day and his spirit has become the patron of those who follow in his wake as sailors. … The Tomich legacy touches all of us who wear the cloth of our nations. Will we be ready? Will we answer Peter Tomich's charge when called upon?"

Tomich Keys

One of 15 men to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941. Named for him were a destroyer escort ship in 1943, the USS Tomich, and Tomich Hall in 1989, where the Navy's Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, R.I., is housed.

Overcame: The fear that rained down from the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.

Lesson: Decide what you are committed to, and the choices you have to make become clearer.

"Honor, courage, commitment - Navy core values (Tomich) had all those in life. He gave them to us in death." -€” U.S. Navy Admiral Harry Ulrich.


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