By Staff Sgt. Adora Medina
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Hundreds of Soldiers, with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, filed into a crowded room to pay tribute to Pvt. Vincent Winston, Sept. 10, 2008. Winston was the unit's first fallen comrade since their arrival into the southern region of Afghanistan roughly two months earlier.
"Men, we must not be sad today we may shed tears, but we must not be sad, we must rejoice that our brother's in heaven and died alongside his friends," Capt. Trevor Voelkel, Winston's company commander, said to those in attendance.
Winston died on Sept. 4, 2008 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in the Maywand District of Afghanistan. His unit, Company C., 2-2 Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., was enroute to support another element, which was involved in a complex attack by Taliban forces.
"That is what all real warriors do. They're professionals that understand the mission. They prepare, they rehearse, they execute and when duty calls they risk their lives to save their friends," Voelkel, said. "Winston, I'm going to miss your attitude, your smile, and your company, but I know we'll see each other again. May God continue to bless your family back home, Winston, and your family right here."
The 22-year-old St. Louis native, joined the Army in November 2006, completing basic combat training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga. The infantryman arrived to his first duty assignment with the "Big Red One" unit at Fort Hood, Texas, in March 2007. Winston's roommate, Andrew West, still recalls the first time he met the young private.
"That kid smiled at me with the biggest smile I've ever seen in my life, patted me on the back, shook my hand and said: 'Hey, I'm Winston,' and from that day forward we were brothers," West said. "We're always going to remember Winston as the comedian he always was, and more than that he was a brother to most of us. He was a friend to everyone. He could be in the worst situation possible; he'd turn around and just smile at everyone and drive on."
Winston's battle buddies remember him for his optimism and agree that it wasn't until he left to Afghanistan, on his first deployment, that his skills as an infantryman really began to flourish.
"We all know that Winston wasn't really a garrison Soldier. But when he hit the field, calling him a stud would be an understatement. He knew our job like the back of his hand," Staff Sgt. Steven Smith, a 2-2 non-commissioned officer, said.
Winston possessed many memorable qualities, but he was remembered most for his unwavering smile, his outgoing personality and his giving nature.
"He had a heart of gold he'd give you his shirt off his back, anything for his brothers. Winston was loved by so many people, it seemed like no matter where we went he always had friends, he could make friends with anybody," Smith said. "Winston would never do anything to harm his buddies; he loved everyone just as much as they loved him and he's going to be missed by so many."
This work, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry honors first fallen comrade, by SSG Adora Medina, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.