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A great Alaskan hero honored during leadership education



July 04, 2016
Monday AM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the 103rd Civil Support Team, Alaska National Guard, gathered for an in-house professional development seminar to study leadership during the Korean War and to honor a great Alaskan hero.

jpg A great Alaskan hero honored during leadership education

Marine Colonel Archie Van Winkle
Photograph courtesy

Lt. Col. Wayne Don, the commander of the 103rd CST, organized the training for his Soldiers and Airmen that was held in Juneau on June 23.

“Regardless of technology and worldly on-goings, leadership is constant,” explained Don. “You’ve got all of these widgets and gadgets that make Soldiering a little bit easier, but at the end of the day it’s human interaction and the ability to influence a group of people that’s important, and that will never change.”

The professional leadership development event, which commenced with a historical briefing on the major players of the Korean War before delving into specific battles and acts of heroism, was led by senior non-commissioned officers from within the unit. As the attendees listened, instructors provided maps, re-enactment videos, and historical photographs describing the timeline of “The Forgotten War.”

Specifically, the valiant efforts portrayed by Alaska’s only Medal of Honor recipient, retired United States Marine Corps Col. Archie Van Winkle, were highlighted. Van Winkle was born in Juneau in 1925.

Van Winkle earned the Medal of Honor in November of 1950, as an infantry platoon sergeant, when he led a charge through enemy fire near Sudong, Korea. Van Winkle became injured, and suffered from a gunshot in the arm and a direct-hit in the chest by a grenade. He refused to be evacuated, and instead continued to shout a stream of encouragement and orders, enabling his outnumbered platoon to resist the enemy attack.

After serving his country for more than three decades, he returned to his beloved Alaska before he died in Ketchikan more than 10 years later, in 1986. Van Winkle was laid to rest at the Sitka National Cemetery.

Van Winkle's Memorial site in downtown Juneau
Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the 103rd Civil Support Team perform a memorial service for the sole Medal of Honor recipient born in Alaska, retired Col. Archie Van Winkle, United States Marine Corps, for his heroism during the Korean War, at his memorial site in downtown Juneau, June 23, 2016. The memorial service was conducted after the unit concluded a professional development leadership seminar based on lessons learned from the Korean War.
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marisa Lindsay

“Listening to the stories of this war, I learned that leaders must lead from the front in combat, and must never ask their subordinates to do what they themselves are not willing to do,” explained Capt. Melkart Hawi, the title operations officer for the 103rd CST. “Great fighting service members deserve great leaders jumping into the fray to ensure that their action will accomplish the mission, and this translates during times of war and times of peace.”

At the conclusion of the classroom portion of the day, the unit traveled through the capital city to pay homage to Van Winkle.

Dressed in their service uniforms, the joint-service unit made their way to the heart of downtown Juneau, where Van Winkle’s granite memorial has rested since 1997. Tourists and locals stood to observe the service members bow their heads in prayer before locking into the position of attention as Van Winkle’s citation was read.

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…,” began Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Lee, the logistics non-commissioned officer for the 103rd CST, as he read the citation. “His superb leadership, valiant fighting spirit and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.”

“It has been a humbling experience to learn in great detail the sacrifices our military personnel endured in the fight to stop Communist aggression in Korea,” concluded Hawi. “I’m walking away with a wonderful source of pride in our military and state, and Alaska’s son, Colonel Van Winkle.”


Related Article:

Ketchikan War Hero Honored at UW; Van Winkle one of eight UW Medal of Honor Recipients By DAVE KIFFER - A Ketchikan war hero was honored at the University of Washington on Veterans' Day along seven other winners of the nation's highest military honor. - More...
SitNews - November 23, 2009


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Alaska National Guard
State of Alaska Department of Military & Veterans Affairs


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