(Additional biographical information provided by The Winkler Family)
SPC. Winkler is believed to be the first Hampton County resident to die from combat wounds in Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began in 2003. On that fatal day, his First Lt. Michael A. Cerrone, son of Brig. Gen. James Cerrone, was also killed in the blast. This was "Buck's" 2nd tour to Iraq.
"He was bright, mature and optimistic," said Lt. Col. Viet Luong, commander, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "His platoon will miss his humor and superb leadership."
"SPC. Winkler was a competent, mature, combat proven warrior who all of us respected and loved. His loyalty, professionalism, aggressiveness and leadership will be missed," said Capt. James Uptgraft, commander of Company A. His platoon mates remembered him as one of the best soldiers in the unit and a crack shot. They recalled Spc. Winkler as having a great sense of humor, a "guy to get things done" and a devoted family man. He was know as "Winky" around the unit.
"Most of my best memories of Wink are ones of him bragging about how awesome his wife and son were. He was always at his best after he talked to his wife and watched his son on the computer," Pfc. Daniel T. Marsh wrote.
Aunt Susan Raynor recalled asking her nephew on one occasion why he liked being a solider. "He said 'I do it for my family. He said, if you can watch a football game on TV, if you can go shopping without worrying, then I've done my job,'" she recalled her nephew replying.
Buck - as he was called since birth - was born in Jacksonville, FL, lived in Milwaukee, Wis, St. Charles, MO, Deltona, FL and made his home in Hampton, SC. He should be remembered for the laughter he brought to his family and friends, and the love he had for his wife and son. May we see him again in heaven.