The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the SILVER STAR MEDAL to
David Skolak, Interior Communications Electrician Fireman, United States Navy
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with the armed attack on USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) in the Eastern Mediterranean on 8 June 1967. During the early afternoon hours, USS LIBERTY was attacked without warning by jet fighter aircraft and three motor torpedo boats. LIBERTY was subjected to intense incendiary, machine-gun, and rocket fire and was placed in extreme jeopardy by a torpedo hit below the waterline on the starboard side in the vicinity of the research compartment. Severe structural damage and extensive personnel casualties were incurred. Fireman Skolak was performing routine repairs to interior communications when the first staffing attack occurred. Several shipmates in the near vicinity were immediately wounded by hostile fire. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Fireman Skolak fearlessly exposed himself to overwhelmingly accurate rocket and machine-gun fire in an attempt to evacuate the wounded men from the forecastle. While performing these valiant acts, he was fatally wounded. Fireman Skolak’s initiative, aggressiveness, courageous actions and coolness under heavy fire served to inspire all who observed him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
For the President
Admiral, United States Navy
Chief of Naval Operations
The dog days of summer were in full swing in Indiana during the middle of August 1946, when David Skolak was born. Aug. 12 promised to be another hot day and most people were trying to stay cool, but not David. He was ready burst onto the scene and did just that. That was the coolest thing that happened in Gary during the month.
David's early years found him participating in Little League Baseball, youth basketball and other sports. He was proud, too, to be a member of the Boys Clubs of America while he was in grade school.
David attended Tolleston High School in Gary, and remained an above-average student throughout his four years there. He continued participating in a variety of sports, but concentrated on tennis and was good enough to earn a spot on the high school tennis team. He graduated on June 2, 1964, a distinguished student who wound up 34th in a class of 216 that year.
David journeyed to Chicago in January 1966 and enlisted in the Navy. His basic training was at the Great Lakes facility in Illinois. He went home on leave after basic training but returned to the school's command at the same facility for training in interior communications. He was further assigned to Liberty following his training and made two cruises to Africa. The second cruise was cut short and Liberty was sent to Rota, Spain, to prepare for a fateful trip to the Sinai Peninsula off the coast of Egypt. It was there that David was killed.
He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for bravery. He was additionally awarded the Purple Heart. David went the extra yard while under attack, with total disregard for his own personal safety, and tried desperately to save some of his shipmates who were exposed to additional fire and were in harm's way. His extreme actions gave credence to his consideration for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was denied that honor because there were no surviving witnesses to his valor while under fire.