New Navy ship named after Oakland County Medal of Honor recipient

Posted at 8:50 AM, Mar 05, 2021

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — An Oakland County man who was awarded the Marine Corps Medal of Honor for his bravery during the Korean War is getting a U.S. Navy ship named in his honor.

Robert Simanek, 90, from Farmington Hills, was just 22 years old in 1952 when he threw himself onto a grenade to absorb the blast when his squad was ambushed by Chinese troops.

He suffered wounds to his leg and hip, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Somehow I managed to use the right part of my body that didn't hurt me that much," he said, according to the DOD.

Despite being injured, Simanek and his men were still pinned down by enemy fighters, so he radioed a nearby tank and told it the enemy's location for defense, according to the DOD.

Robert Simanek.JPG

The men who were supposed to carry the injured Simanek down the hill were injured by a tanker blast, so they couldn't carry them. Simanek then told them to go down the hill without him, according to a DOD profile.

"The idea that they couldn't carry me — it was no doubt the best thing to do for them to get going," he said to the DOD.

According to the profile, Simanek crawled away from the trench until a rescue squad found him and choppered him out. He was treated on the USS Haven in Japan and then flown back to the states where he took a year to recover. He was officially discharged and retired on March 1, 1953.

"I enjoyed that helicopter ride so much. I just couldn't get over how beautiful it was. But then, I'd had a shot in the arm, and that sort of gave me a little extra sense of beauty," Simanek said about the rescue.

On Oct. 27, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded Simanek the Medal of Honor at the White House

"One of the hardest things about the medal is you're really not allowed to forget about it," Simanek said, according to the DOD.

The ship, now known as the USS Robert E. Simanek, is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will perform a variety of missions, including helicopter launches, small boat launches, special ops and more.

“I didn’t think having a ship named after me would happen,” Simanek said. “I was tickled to death when I found out about it.”