JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lynn Winkler was a man of strength and influence – yet after serving in war, being ready for the worst and hoping for the best, he also found ways to enjoy the simple things in life.
Winkler, a longtime resident of Danbury, Connecticut, died this past March at age 72 after a battle with cancer.
“I believe that the Army Reserve and the world should know that there are people like Tim Winkler out there doing some great things to have our Reserve Soldiers ready to deploy anytime, anywhere,” said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Arlindo Almeida, Army instructor at Westhill High School in Stamford, Connecticut.
Winkler’s career spanned more than four decades of military service, from Vietnam through Operation Enduring Freedom. From beginning to end, his professional life was ultimately committed to the Army Reserve’s mission of readiness.
Officially, Army readiness is the capability of its forces to conduct the full range of military operations, to defeat all enemies regardless of the threats they pose, a function of how well units are manned, equipped, trained and led.
Friends and colleagues say Winkler continuously thrived on that definition, especially when they deployed overseas. His “kids'' – the Soldiers he served alongside – and their family members always knew “Uncle Timmy” would take care of them no matter how many miles away they were.
“He stood up for enlisted Soldiers as well as mentored officers,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Agard. “The door to his office was always open…he always encouraged us to take care of the NCOs, to take care of your Soldiers.”
All the while, he kept things simple. He loved coffee. He would spend time with his wife Jeanne and their two daughters, enjoying traveling and seeking out interesting points in history which he so loved to read about.
“In the drill hall, he growled like a grizzly bear. He was old school. He was awesome. If you could get past the gruff, it was good. He could chew you out, but after, he could buy you a beer,” said Agard.
Winkler launched himself into the Army promptly after graduating from Mountain Home High School in Arkansas in 1967, serving as an active-duty Soldier through 1976.
He met and married his wife in Bad Windsheim, Germany, and was married for 47 years until his death.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, he attended and graduated from Norwalk Community College. He joined the Army Reserve’s 399th Civil Affairs Group which was later reconstituted as the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.
At the 411th, he became known as “Uncle Timmy” and was a resource for the many troops the battalion deployed to missions in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa for civil affairs military operations.
“He had a reputation of being a tough cookie,” said Agard, as he recalled being nice to Winkler when first getting acquainted. “I called him and said, ‘I’m going to Dunkin Donuts, can I get you something, sir?’ He said, ‘Don’t call me sir!’ and thought I was from another planet. Ever since then, we were buddies, I cracked the code!"
Winkler was also active in local veteran’s organizations and widely known in the Danbury veteran community.
As a member of the VFW, he continued the tradition of service to country by supporting local veterans and their families as post quartermaster of VFW Post 149 where he was instrumental in establishing his post’s scholarship fund.
“One of the biggest things about Tim is how much of an influence he had in the city of Danbury’s veterans community, and that he was the leading force to name the new Army Reserve Center in Danbury,” said Almeida, who served with Winkler at the 411th before retiring from the 99th Readiness Division headquartered here.
Winkler was also District 1 CT VFW commander from 2003-04, president of the Danbury Veteran Council of Veterans and a member of the Veterans Council Honor Guard.
Toward the end of Winkler’s service, the federal Base Realignment and Closure program had the 411th potentially moving to another location. “He fought for us to stay here [in Danbury], he was that kind of individual,” said Agard, who served with Winkler for more than a decade. “He loved the Army – anybody could wear a uniform, but he believed in it.”