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Army Spc. Damon G. Winkleman

Died September 20, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

23, of Lakeville, Ohio; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Sept. 20 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover. Also killed was Spc. Corey J. Kowall.

Loudonville area mourns soldier

By Jami Kinton

Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal via Gannett News Service

LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — If Loudonville High School biology teacher David Spreng were to write a book, one chapter would be devoted to Damon Winkleman.

On Monday the Loudonville community learned that Spc. Winkleman, 23, of Lakeville, was killed last week in Afghanistan. He was an Army combat medic.

“I had Damon in several classes, and he was just so good-natured,” Spreng said. “He never took himself too seriously. He had a great sense of humor and was always coming up with something that would have you in stitches. He made teaching fun.”

Details of Winkleman’s death have yet to be released by the Department of Defense. Family members reached Monday night declined comment.

“I’m fortunate to still have the memories,” Spreng said. “But we’ll sure miss him. This is a school where you knew everybody, and I’m sure this has touched his whole class very deeply. I always said if I ever were to write a book about my teaching experiences, at least one chapter would be on Damon.”

Winkleman was a member of the 82nd Airborne. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Byerly-Lindsey Funeral Home in Loudonville.

High school Principal Ben Blubaugh said Winkleman was “everyone’s friend.”

“He was so well-liked by the students and teachers alike,” Blubaugh said. “He was a very solid young man with wonderful values. He impressed me. He had goals and knew where he was going. Any parent would be proud to claim him.”

Blubaugh said district officials were informed of the news Monday.

“We’re waiting for more information to see what happens, but I’m sure the school will be a part of it when we find out the arrangements,” he said.

Sally Warbel, the recently retired 22-year principal at McMullen Elementary School, said the news was heartbreaking.

“Damon was just such a nice kid,” Warbel said. “You just remember the whole Winkleman family as just the nicest family. If we had a carnival, you could count on them being there helping. They were the kind of family you like to see at your school. So many come and go, but you remember people like that. This is just a tragedy.”

Danville resident Sam Kapport, a 2005 Loudonville graduate, said he played with Winkleman in a garage band called The Red Republicans.

“We were a high school band and everyone in it was completely different from each other,” Kapport said. “We were not from the same social groups, and a lot of people didn’t understand that, but we did it anyway, and we loved it.

“Damon was one of the most talented bass players ever. His father taught him how to play bass and taught his brother Nate geometry. Damon used to say, ‘I wish I had learned geometry,’ and I’d say, ‘No, Damon. You needed to learn bass.’ He was awesome.”

Kapport said Winkleman also had a big heart.

“He was a friend to all,” he said.

Loudonville resident Barb Burd said Winkleman was friends with her two sons.

“He was a very fun guy who lived life to the fullest,” Burd said. “He had a great sense of humor and was sometimes very ornery. My hope is that his family continues to be surrounded by prayer and that God keeps them in his loving arms. I’m very proud of his service to our country.”

Winkleman was the second of three sons of Richard “Wink” and Pat Winkleman of rural Lakeville. Father Richard is an Army Reserve major; brothers Jason and Nathan also are in the military.

“Lets keep it short ‘n sweet,” Winkleman wrote on his MySpace page. “I’m Damon. I’m in the military, I love my family and I love my friends.”

The outdoors were where he was at home

The Associated Press

Damon Winkleman loved science and the outdoors — whether at the lake near his house or Carolina Beach.

“There wasn’t a tree, animal or piece of anatomy he couldn’t identify,” his family wrote in his obituary. Winkleman also loved playing in his “garage band” in high school, fishing and woodworking.

Winkleman, 23, of Lakeville, Ohio, died Sept. 20 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle overturned. The crash also killed a soldier riding with him. They were on their way to help another unit facing enemy fire.

Winkleman was a combat medic assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C. He graduated from Loudonville High School in 2004.

Winkleman played football and baseball in high school and continued to follow sports, although an Army chaplain who met him at Fort Bragg said he had unusual favorites.

“He loved the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Pittsburgh Steelers, a combination most of us in North Carolina never heard of and still don’t understand,” said Capt. Larry McCarthy.

He is survived by his parents, Richard and Patricia; two brothers, one of whom is currently deployed to Iraq; two nephews; and several aunts and uncles.

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