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Col. Archie Van Winkle
By Stephen C. McGowan


August 06, 2012
Monday PM

I recall getting a brand new Rambler American Sedan, fresh from Warren, Michigan for use by Col. Van Winkle. I was working as a motor-pool dispatcher with the MP's aboard Camp Pendleton, USMC. Calif. The Col. advised me that it would be arriving soon. It came in on a Friday afternoon, so I polished it up and backed it into the cage with the Col's name on it. That evening a boot Lt. came into my office to get a vehicle for his shift as Officer of the day, for the MP's. He said he wanted the brand new sedan that had just come in. I informed the Lt. that the sedan was the Col's brand new vehicle, and that I couldn't let anyone use it, other than the Col. The Lt. said he was giving me a direct order to use the car. Well, I was just a Lance-Corporal, and being a good Marine I had to follow his orders.

I had to work that entire weekend, and when the Lt. returned the car, it looked as though it had been through a war. Dirt, mud, scrapes and scratches all over the brand new Vehicle. The Lt. turned in his trip-ticket and said that I might want to clean it up a bit. But, he didn't give me a direct order to do so, so I put the car back into the Col's cage, where it remained until the Col. came in Monday morning. He walked up to me out in the Motor-Pool, and of course I gave him my best Marine Corps Salute, and he said what he always said to me "Knock that sh--, off mac, how was your weekend? Well sir, I replied, your sedan came in sir, and I had it all shined up, when Lt. so-in-so gave me a direct order sir to use your car, sir. The Col. walked over to the caged vehicle, and said, "Mac you did the right thing, it's your duty to follow a direct order, I'll take care of that Lt. so and so." The Lt. So and So was never seen again with the MP's.

The Col. treated people as they treated him. As a Marine you wanted to salute this man. I always looked forward to seeing him, and saluting him. He was the type of Marine everyone wanted to be. I always enjoyed having a cup of coffee with him. He always said the coffee was, typical Marine Corps coffee. He made me so much prouder to be a Marine.

I just recently got a computer and typed in his name. I had no idea he had passed on. I recall when I was about to leave the Corps, he called me up to his Office and asked if I would like to re-up for another 4 years, I told him if I could keep this job, I'd consider it. He said that he couldn't promise my job because he was going to be leaving the Corps soon.

It makes me so sad that he is gone. Once again, I am a better man having known him. He will be allowed in up there, simply because he inspired the people who were beneath his command, and he wouldn't expect any Marine to do something that he wouldn't or hadn't done himself.

Semper-Fi Col.

Stephen C. McGowan
Algonac, Mich.

About: " A couple of stories about Col. Archie Vanwinkle. I worked for him when he was Provost Marshal, with the MP's at Camp Pendleton, Cal. in 1972-73. what a great loss for this country and the Corps.Briefly knowing him was something I'll never forget. What a man, what a Marine."

Received August 05, 2012 - Published August 06, 2012

Related Feature:

Ketchikan War Hero Honored at UW; Van Winkle one of eight UW Medal of Honor Recipients By DAVE KIFFER
SitNews - Nov. 2009


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