In Commemoration of Staff Sergeant George Lewis "Rip" Winkler
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today issued a proclamation ordering all U.S. and State flags displayed at State facilities be lowered to half-staff from dawn to dusk on July 15, 2011 in honor of Staff Sergeant George Lewis "Rip" Winkler, a native of Huntington, W.Va. This is the date in 1944 that Staff Sergeant Winkler left the United States to begin active duty in World War II.
George Winkler enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 17, 1942 and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was stationed in Columbia, South Carolina and deployed on July 15, 1944 to serve in the Philippine Islands as a member of the 13th Air Force, 42nd Bomber Group, 100th Squadron, also known as the "Jungle Air Force." During a mission to provide air support for allied troops, he and 5 other members of the Jungle Air Force encountered enemy attack and crashed. Staff Sergeant Winkler and 5 others perished.
The unidentified remains of the crew were recovered and buried in a common grave in the Philippines in 1947 and returned to the U.S. in 1949. Following years of effort by the families, the U.S. Army exhumed the remains. Final identification of the airmen was positively made in December 2010. Staff Sergeant George Lewis "Rip" Winkler was finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. with full military honors in May 2011.
"Today we remember Staff Sergeant Winkler and the sacrifice he made for his country so long ago," said Governor Tomblin. "It is an important reminder that freedom always has a cost and that our ability to enjoy our way of life has been sustained by the commitment of our military men and women throughout our country's history. It is my hope that the family of Staff Sergeant Winkler will take comfort knowing he is now in his proper and final resting place."
Staff Sergeant Winkler was followed in death by his wife, Iris, his parents, Russell and Elizabeth and his brother Russell. He is survived by his sister, Mickey B. Beard, son Lance Winkler and other family members.
(From the Governor's Website)
We Honor Staff Sergeant George Lewis "Rip" Winkler
West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance