SUNRISE (CBSMiami) — Every Friday, in partnership with the Florida Panthers, we put the spotlight on a hero among us, men or women who have gone beyond the call of duty for our country.

Today, we’re meeting United States Marine Corps World War II veteran Corporal Gene Witkowski.

Corporal Witkowski enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944 and served until 1946. During his service, he was involved in the largest amphibious landing on Okinawa on April 3, 1945.

He remembers being in a tank with four other Marines when both sides of his tank were hit and they all had to evacuate.  The gunner’s leg was shattered. He was able to get him out and stayed with him until rescue arrived. The gunner was taken to safety, but Witkowski stayed behind and continued fighting.

United States Marine Corps World War II Veteran Corporal Gene Witkowski. (Courtesy: Florida Panthers)

“I made it back to my unit got a new tank and started all over again.  After we secured Okinawa I was shipped to China for guard duty.  Being a marine makes me feel very proud,” he said.

Corporal Gene Witkowski was honored at a Florida Panthers game before the season was postponed.

With his family by his side, he proudly stood and thanked the fan-filled arena as they too took to their feet to honor this hero among us.

On behalf of the Florida Panthers and CBS4 we would like to say thank you United States Marine Corps World War II veteran Corporal Gene Witkowski for your service and dedication to our country.

Marybel Rodriguez

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