On this day in 1946, a future Medal of Honor recipient is born. Perhaps some would consider Pfc. David Winder an unlikely hero? As the son of a pastor, he was a pacifist and one of only a handful of men to receive the Medal despite their own personal reservations about war.
Indeed, Winder nearly fled to Canada to avoid the draft. In the end, though, “he figured that wasn’t the right thing to do,” as his little brother later described.
Instead, Winder would serve his country in his own way. By November 1969, he was in Vietnam, serving as a senior medical aidman.
“He was about helping people,” his brother concluded. “He didn’t even carry a gun in Vietnam.”
Pfc. Winder’s heroism came after he’d been in Vietnam for several months. On May 13, 1970, his unit became pinned down by intense fire. The enemy was well-entrenched and raking our soldiers with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Several of our men went down, but Winder didn’t hesitate.
Remember: He was unarmed. Nevertheless, he began crawling and working his way across 100 meters of open terrain, even as bullets fell all around him. One of the bullets soon hit the young medic, but Winder still managed to find one of our wounded soldiers to help.
He administered medical aid and moved on, despite his own wounds. He needed to help as many men as he could.
Winder nearly made it to a second casualty, but when he was within 10 meters of this second soldier, he was hit again. This wound was mortal.
“I don’t think you’d expect anybody to do what he did—or very few people, anyhow, to be so selfless,” Winder’s little brother later said. On the other hand, maybe Winder’s family wasn’t so surprised, either? “If you knew him it really wasn’t out of character for him to do that,” the younger Winder said. “He was just a great brother.”
Yet another quiet hero, serving our country in any way that he could. Such an AMERICAN story, isn’t it?
Edward F. Murphy, Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes (rev. ed. 2005)
Jonathan D. Silver, Dog tag of medic killed in Vietnam returned to his brother (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Dec. 20, 2008)
Medal of Honor citation (David F. Winder; Vietnam)
Pfc. David Winder (Health.mil: Official Website of the Military Health System)