By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
Col. Steve Vitali, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), and his brother Keith Vitali, acclaimed Hollywood actor and world champion martial artist, both received Senate commendations from S.C. Senator Thomas Alexander, Wed., Sept. 2. The awards ceremony was held on the floor of the Senate at the S.C. State House.
Col. Vitali was recognized for his service as an operations officer with the National Security Task Force, S.C. Floodwater Commission; and for his years of distinguished service as a Marine infantry officer who served around the world including wartime deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan commanding both the U.S. and foreign military forces. Vitali is from Columbia.
Vitali’s brother Keith, who resides in Atlanta, was recognized for his just-published children’s book, VICTOR STOPS THE SCHOOL BULLY, co-authored with his third-grade grandson Sam Oates. Vitali was also recognized for his lifetime achievement as a writer, actor, film-producer, 10th-degree black belt and former U.S. National Karate Champion and one of Black Belt magazine’s top 10 fighters of all time.
“These two brothers – one a Marine, the other a movie star, and both accomplished martial artists – speak to the greatness of America and South Carolina, something we need to see and recognize more of these days,” says S.C. Floodwater Commission chair Tom Mullikin, who nominated the Vitalis for the awards. “Who these men are and what they have accomplished and represented are what make this recognition today one in which I am deeply honored to have been a part of.”
Attending the awards ceremony were S.C. Black Belt Hall of Fame members Bruce Brutschy and Mike Genova (Both Vitali brothers and Mullikin are also members of the S.C. Black Belt Hall of Fame). Also in attendance were Mrs. Kathy Wright Vitali (Keith’s wife) and 92-year-old Joseph Vitali, the Vitali family patriarch and a retired U.S. Army senior staff NCO.
– Pictured (L-R) are Alexander, Brutschy, Genova, Keith Vitali, Kathy Vitali, Joe Vitali, Steve Vitali, Smith, and Mullikin.