Contributed by George Straty, AACS, Survivor
I want to tell you about Jack Sparacio. We were down in the bowels of the ship. Joe Confer could probably tell you exactly where. Some of the guys were crowding the few portholes and describing in excited voices what they were seeing. Not being able to get a porthole we just listened.
Then the ship was hit!
Nobody knew what to do at that moment. Shortly afterwards the ship began to list to one side and smoke started filling where we were. Still no orders. A mad rush then started to get on deck. Once we were on deck, Sparacio, George Silver another fellow and myself, along with many others waited to be told what to do. We were a bunch of teenagers waiting for orders.
Never heard the words “Abandon ship”. But many were doing it. No lifeboats seemed to be in the water. Jack had told me that he could not swim. We decided to get off the ship as others were going down a cargo net that did not even reach the water, so we had to jump the last twenty feet. Jack Sparacio and another guy were in the water before me. The other fellow was screaming that his lifebelt was busted.
Jack was hanging on to some floating debris and he pushed over to the other fellow who was still screaming. Jack took off his inflatable lifebelt and gave it to him. Remember, Jack could not swim yet he gave his only lifebelt to another man.
I then jumped from the cargo net, no, I was pushed off it into the water and went down under water. When I surfaced I could see neither Jack or the other guy . . . and never saw them again.
Jack Sparacio could not swim, yet he gave his own main hope of surviving to another. That is what I call heroic.