Archie Van Winkle

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Archie Van Winkle
Archie VanWinkle MOH.jpg
Archie Van Winkle, Medal of Honor recipient
Born(1925-03-17)March 17, 1925
Juneau, Alaska, U.S.
DiedMay 22, 1986(1986-05-22) (aged 61)
Ketchikan, Alaska, U.S.
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchSeal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service1942–1945, 1948–1974
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit1st Battalion, 7th Marines
Commands held2nd Battalion, 1st Marines
Battles/warsWorld War II

Korean War

Vietnam War

AwardsMedal of Honor
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star (2) w/ "V" Device
Air Medal w/ V Device
Purple Heart (3)

Colonel Archie Van Winkle (March 17, 1925 – May 22, 1986) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a staff sergeant during the advance to the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.

A combat veteran of World War II, he was called to active duty with the Marine Corps Reserve after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and was released to inactive duty on July 16, 1951. Van Winkle again returned to active duty and served in combat during the Vietnam War. He is the only Medal of Honor recipient from Alaska.[1]

Early life and World War II[edit]

Born March 17, 1925 in Juneau, Alaska, Van Winkle attended public school in Darrington, Washington. An ardent athlete, he captained both the boxing and football teams at Darrington High School, where he also played baseball and basketball. He entered the University of Washington in Seattle to study physical education, but left after a few months to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve on December 14, 1942.

During almost three years of active duty, he served as an aviation radioman-gunner and mechanic, participating in the Solomons, Philippines and Emirau operations. On October 22, 1945, he received his honorable discharge.

He continued his studies in physical education for two years at Everett Junior College (now Everett Community College) and for another year at the University of Washington. In March 1948, he rejoined the Marine Corps Reserve and became a member of Company A, 11th Infantry Battalion, in Seattle.

Korean War and after[edit]

The battalion was mobilized and ordered to Camp Pendleton, California, on August 7, 1950. Late that month he arrived in Korea and participated in the Inchon landing.

By November 2, 1950, Van Winkle had reached the rank of staff sergeant and was serving as an infantry platoon sergeant. On that night, near Sudong, North Korea during the advance to the Chosin Reservoir, he led a charge through withering enemy fire. A bullet shattered his arm and he was seriously wounded in the chest by a direct hit from a hand grenade. He refused to be evacuated and continued to shout orders and encouragement to his men while lying on the ground, weak from loss of blood. His leadership enabled the outnumbered platoon to repulse an enemy attack. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Evacuated to Japan and later to the United States, he subsequently served for several months with the Marine guards at the Naval Base, Bremerton, Washington. He was released from active duty on July 16, 1951, and was attached to the 10th Infantry Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, in Seattle.

President Harry S. Truman presented Van Winkle with the Medal of Honor during ceremonies at the White House on February 6, 1952.[2] The following day he was sworn in as a second lieutenant by General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps, having qualified under the "meritorious noncommissioned officer" program.

Later recalled to active duty, Van Winkle attended Basic School at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia, from November 1952 to May 1953. First Lieutenant Van Winkle completed Air Observation School at Quantico that November and was assigned as an Air Observer with the 3rd Marine Division then at Camp Pendleton. He was later Assistant G-3 of Force Troops, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, then served as a company executive officer and company commander, respectively, with the 3rd Battalion 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. He was promoted to captain on December 31, 1954, and in 1955, he was assigned as regimental liaison officer, 9th Marines.

From November 1955 until April 1958, he served as assistant officer in charge of the Marine Corps Recruiting Station, Indianapolis, Indiana. In May 1958, he was named commanding officer of the marine detachment aboard the USS Newport News. Following two years in this assignment, he was assigned to the college degree program at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in June 1961.

Transferred to Hawaii that month, Captain Van Winkle was assigned as a company commander with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Brigade. In April 1962, he became director of the 1st Marine Brigade Schools and was credited with the establishment of a brigade guerilla warfare school. Earlier, as part of a special observer group sent to South Vietnam in late February 1962, he was commended by General Paul D. Harkins, U.S. Army, head of the United States Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, and Admirals H.D. Felt and J.H. Sides, CINCPAC, and CINCPAC Fleet commanders, respectively. He was promoted to major in August 1962.

In June 1964, Van Winkle reported to the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Upon graduation in June 1965, he was assigned duty as manpower analyst and, later, head, Operating Forces Section, Manpower Control Branch, G-1 Division, at Headquarters Marine Corps. While serving in his capacity, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on July 1, 1967.

Vietnam War[edit]

Van Winkle's next duty assignment was in the South Vietnam. He served consecutively as commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines; G-3 Operations Officer, First Marine Division; and as assistant operations officer, Task Force X-Ray, Sub Unit #1, First Marine Division, from August 1967 to September 1968, and earned the Bronze Star with Combat "V". A gold star in lieu of a second Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" was awarded him for his actions on July 6, 1968, on Hill 689 near Khe Sanh Combat Base. He also received the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star.

He was commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines from June 1968 to September 1968.

Later life[edit]

Van Winkle's monument in Juneau, Alaska

After his return to the United States, he was again assigned to the G-1 Division at Headquarters Marine Corps, this time as head of the Standards and Utilization Section, Manpower Control Branch. He then served as provost marshal at Camp Pendleton California then provost marshal general of the Marine Corps. He retired from service in February 1974.

In his retirement, Van Winkle lived on a boat in Bar Harbor near Ketchikan, Alaska. He died there on May 22, 1986, and his remains were cremated and scattered at sea in the Tongass Narrows, on which Ketchikan sits.[3] A memorial headstone was placed in Sitka National Cemetery in Alaska.[4]


On October 1, 1997, a granite monument in Juneau, Alaska was dedicated memorializing Archie Van Winkle, Alaska's only Medal of Honor recipient.[5]

Van Winkle is also honored at the University of Washington Medal of Honor veterans memorial.

The events for which he received the Medal of Honor, and the story of his unit there is related in the book Colder Than Hell: A Marine Rifle Company at Chosin Reservoir by Joseph R. Owen, published by Presidio Press in 1996.


Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
Bronze star
1st Row Medal of Honor Distinguished Flying Cross with one gold award star Bronze Star with Combat "V" and Gold Star Air Medal with Valor Device
2nd Row Purple Heart with two gold stars Navy Presidential Unit Citation Navy Unit Commendation with one bronze service star Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with one service star
3rd Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with three bronze stars) World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star
4th Row Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars Vietnam Gallantry Cross with gold star
5th Row Korean Presidential Unit Citation with bronze star Philippine Liberation Medal United Nations Korean Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Platoon Sergeant in Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Sudong, Korea, on November 2, 1950. Immediately rallying the men in his area after a fanatical and numerically superior enemy force penetrated the center of the line under cover of darkness and pinned down the platoon with a devastating barrage of deadly, automatic weapons and grenade fire, Staff Sergeant Van Winkle boldly spearheaded a determined attack through withering fire against hostile frontal positions and, though he and all the others who charged with him were wounded, succeeded in enabling his platoon to gain the fire superiority and the opportunity to reorganize. Realizing that the left-flank squad was isolated from the rest of the unit, he rushed through forty yards of fierce enemy fire to reunite his troops despite an elbow wound which rendered one of his arms totally useless. Severely wounded a second time when a direct hit in the chest from a hostile hand grenade caused serious and painful wounds, he staunchly refused evacuation and continued to shout orders and words of encouragement to his depleted and battered platoon. Finally carried from his position unconscious from shock and loss of blood, Staff Sergeant Van Winkle served to inspire all who observed him to heroic efforts in successfully repulsing the enemy attack. 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.


University of Washington Medal of Honor Memorial[edit]

At the University of Washington in February 2006, a resolution recommending a memorial be erected to honor fighter ace and alumnus Pappy Boyington for his service during World War II was raised and defeated[6] during a meeting of the student senate.[7] Some people did not believe the resolution's sponsor had fully addressed the financial and logistical problems of installing a memorial, and some were questioning the widely held assumption that all warriors and acts of war are automatically worthy of memorialization. The story was picked up by some blogs and conservative news outlets, focusing on two statements made by student senators during the meeting.[8] One student senator, Ashley Miller, said that the UW already had many monuments to "rich, white men" (Boyington claimed partial Sioux ancestry[9] and was not rich);[10] another, Jill Edwards, questioned whether the UW should memorialize a person who killed others, summarized in the minutes as saying "she didn't believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce."[11]

After its defeat, a new version of the original resolution was submitted that called for a memorial to all eight UW alumni who received the Medal of Honor after attending the UW.[12][13] On April 4, 2006, the resolution passed by a vote of 64 to 14 with several abstentions, on a roll call vote. The University of Washington Medal of Honor memorial was constructed at the south end of Memorial Way (17th Ave NE), north of Red Square, in the interior of a traffic circle between Parrington and Kane Halls (47°39′26″N 122°18′35″W / 47.6573°N 122.3097°W / 47.6573; -122.3097). Privately funded, it was completed in time for a Veterans Day dedication in November 2009.[14] In addition to Greg Boyington, it honors Deming Bronson, Bruce Crandall, Robert Galer, John Hawk, Robert Leisy, William Nakamura, and Archie Van Winkle.[15][16][17]

Ordinary individuals
facing extraordinary circumstances
with courage and selflessness
answer the call
and change the course of destiny.
                               Medal of Honor

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Home of Heroes
  2. ^ Daily Presidential Appointments – February 6, 1952, President Harry S. Truman's appointments, from the Truman Library. Entry shows presentation of the Medal of Honor to Archie Van Winkle, and includes the guest list. (URL accessed on June 6, 2006)
  3. ^ Kiffer, Dave (November 23, 2009). "Ketchikan War Hero Honored at UW". Stories in the News. Ketchikan, Alaska. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010.
  4. ^ Notable Persons – Medal of Honor recipient Archived June 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Sitka National Cemetery. (URL accessed June 6, 2006)
  5. ^ Memorial to Archie Van Winkle – Medal of Honor Marine Archived 2006-03-23 at the Wayback Machine. (URL accessed June 6, 2006)
  6. ^ "A Resolution to Calling for a Tribute for Col. Gregory 'Pappy' Boyington, USMC", Resolution R-12-18 Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine, Associated Students of the University of Washington Student Senate, submitted 01/11/2006. (retrieved February 24, 2006)
  7. ^ Boyington memorial – A word from the Senate[permanent dead link], The Daily, February 17, 2006. (retrieved February 24, 2006)
  8. ^ Flickinger, Christopher. "Marines Not Welcome at University of Washington" Archived 2012-02-17 at the Wayback Machine, Human Events ", February 20, 2006.
  9. ^ "Great Sioux Nation Medal of Honor Recipients". Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  10. ^ Muir, Florabel (July 16, 1967). "Pappy Boiyngton is ill, destitute". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. (New York News). p. 12.
  11. ^ UW Senate minutes Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Frey, Christine (February 21, 2006). "Boyington memorial for UW revisited". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  13. ^ "A Resolution Calling a Memorial for UW Alumni awarded the Medal of Honor" Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine, Resolution R-12-16, Associated Students of the University of Washington Student Senate, submitted 02/17/2006.
  14. ^ "Honoring the men behind the Medals of Honor with ceremony, exhibit ", University of Washington News, 10 November 2009.
  15. ^ O'Donnell, Catherine (October 21, 2009). "New UW memorial honors alumni who hold the Congressional Medal of Honor". University of Washington. UW News. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  16. ^ Broom, Jack (November 10, 2009). "UW to honor war heroes with Medal of Honor memorial". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  17. ^ "University of Washington Medal of Honor Memorial Dedication". U.S. Militaria Forum. Retrieved October 9, 2015.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

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