Medal of Honor Profile: Col Archie Van Winkle, USMC (1925-1986)

COL. ARCHIE VAN WINKLE, USMC (1925-1986): For heroism on Nov. 2, 1950 in Sudong, Korea. A staff sergeant at the time, he led his platoon on a successful night counterattack to reunite his troops. President Truman presented him the Medal of Honor at the White House in 1952. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Born in Juneau, Alaska; attended school in Darrington; served for several months with the Marine guard at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton; retired from the Marines in 1974. In retirement, he lived on a boat near Ketchikan, Alaska.

“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.”