George Winne Jr.

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George Winne Jr.
Born (1947-04-02)April 2, 1947
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died May 11, 1970(1970-05-11) (aged 23)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Nationality American

George Winne Jr. (April 2, 1947 – May 11, 1970) was an American student who, in protest of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, set himself on fire in a deliberate act of self-immolation at Revelle Plaza on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. Winne's act was inspired by the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức.

Early life[edit]

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Winne was the son of a captain in the United States Navy. The 23-year-old student, a former member of a ROTC unit at the Colorado School of Mines, had no previous affiliation with any organized protests. Winne had recently completed his studies towards a degree in History in March, and had joined the History department as a graduate student. He would have attended graduation in June.


Shortly after 4 p.m. on May 10, Winne ignited gasoline-soaked rags in his lap next to a sign that said "In God's name, end this war." He began to run and was knocked down by physics graduate student Keith Stowe, who tried to smother the flames. Winne died ten hours later at Scripps Hospital, after asking his mother to write a letter to President Nixon. His last words were "I believe in God and the hereafter and I will see you there."

At noon on May 11, a memorial service was held in Revelle Plaza. Speakers included history professor and chair of the faculty senate Gabriel Jackson and philosophy professor Herbert Marcuse.


The Winne Memorial at UCSD, looking south toward the Price Center ATMs.

Throughout the 1980s, student groups asked that a plaque be placed in memory of Winne. Although the Associated Students approved the proposal, it was blocked by the Revelle College Council. The UCSD Disorientation Manual 2001-2002 (p. 43) says that the bricks upon which he lit himself on fire were removed from their original location in Revelle Plaza and currently rest next to a small memorial plaque, located in a grove of trees east of the campus library. It is now generally accepted that there is no evidence the bricks were moved from the Plaza.

However, a clay sculpture was made in 1976 by Visual Arts graduate student, Virginia Maksymowicz, now a sculptor and professor at Franklin & Marshall College. The metal sculpture in the grove is by Michael Todd, a sculptor who lives in the Los Angeles area and who had been on the UCSD faculty.

In 2013, a group of students studying the history of progressive activism at UC San Diego, proposed a "memory site" near the location of Winne's act. Rather than focusing on his individual act, the memorial remembered all those who fought for peace during the American war in Vietnam as well as all those who struggle for peace today. With input and support from Winne's cousin, Keith Stowe, and others, the site was completed in 2014.[1]

See also[edit]


  • Keen, H. "San Diego student who set self afire in war protest dies", Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1970
  • Joyner, Owen. "Student Sets Self Afire; Dies to Protest War," UCSD Triton Times, May 12, 1970

External links[edit]

Reference list[edit]

  1. ^ "New Campus Memorial Honors Protesters for Peace". 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2014-02-06.