Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Update: Tomorrow, May 27 2013, is Memorial Day. To paraphrase Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, those of little note (me), will long remember...people like Doc. On the day he died in 1970, our rifle platoon deployed into a large scale ambush, we tried to handle the situation as best we could and we did it after gathering what little cover and concealment we could find, even when it was just flat ground. We wanted to be safe first, react second. Yes, that day many, against instinct, abandoned that safety when the circumstances scream we do so, such as pulling out downed helicopter crews, laying down supressing fire, and evacuating wounded - all under hostile fire. But, for the most part, it was courage in short bursts; like the intermitent clatter of an M-60 machine gun.
But not Doc. On the day he died, he was different. He didn't think of cover. When he was with my squad early that morning, he stayed in open ground, calmly walking from body to body, ignoring explosions, ignoring getting shot at...he did his job. He was completely focused - giving assistance - giving love - helping us - trying to keep everyone alive.
The citation below barely touches on what he did that day for us. We will remember you always, Doc. Memorial Day is your day.
In a place of casual violence where caring and compassion were on a short leash, you listened to us with our concerns, fixed us up when we had cuts, infections, jungle skin conditions, accidents, stepped on a booby trap or got shot. In a place where few listened to us, you listened better than any person outside a confessional I have ever come in contact with. You kept us well and because of your efforts you helped us to endure. Your quiet, encouraging conversation and sly humor were what we needed and you worried about us like a mother hen.
I didn't know until several days ago that you were awarded the medal. On that terrible day in May you did what you always did; you took care of us and paid an awful price.
Those who were there will never forget you.
We carry you with us always.
You were one of God's better efforts.
Rest in peace Doc.
Medal of Honor Citation
DAVID FRANCIS WINDER
Private First Class, U.S. Army
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Place and Date: Republic of Vietnam, 13 May 1970.
Entered Service at: Columbus, Ohio.
Born :10 August 1946, Edinboro, Pa.
Pfc. Winder distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam as a senior medical aidman with Company A. After moving through freshly cut rice paddies in search of a suspected company-size enemy force, the unit started a thorough search of the area. Suddenly they were engaged with intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fire by a well entrenched enemy force. Several friendly soldiers fell wounded in the initial contact and the unit was pinned down. Responding instantly to the cries of his wounded comrades, Pfc. Winder began maneuvering across approximately 100 meters of open, bullet-swept terrain toward the nearest casualty. Unarmed and crawling most of the distance, he was wounded by enemy fire before reaching his comrades. Despite his wounds and with great effort, Pfc. Winder reached the first casualty and administered medical aid. As he continued to crawl across the open terrain toward a second wounded soldier he was forced to stop when wounded a second time. Aroused by the cries of an injured comrade for aid, Pfc. Winder's great determination and sense of duty impelled him to move forward once again, despite his wounds, in a courageous attempt to reach and assist the injured man. After struggling to within 10 meters of the man, Pfc. Winder was mortally wounded. His dedication and sacrifice inspired his unit to initiate an aggressive counter assault which led to the defeat of the enemy. Pfc. Winder's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit and the U.S. Army.
Medal of Honor
Awarded to PFC David F. Winder