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Clifford Winkler


Date and Place of Birth: Circa 1923 McKeesport, PA
Date and Place of Death:    November 20, 1943 Betio, Tarawa Atoll
Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position: Outfield
Rank: Private
Military Unit: Company M, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division USMC
Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

Clifford A. Winkler was from McKeesport, Pennsylvania. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred W. Winkler, he was a star outfielder with a McKeesport sandlot team before entering military service.

Winkler enlisted with the Marine Corps on December 13, 1942, and was serving in the South Pacific by February of the following year. A private with Company M, 3rd Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Winkler landed on Betio (a tiny island with a very import airfield) in the Tarawa atoll on November 20, 1943. Facing him were 2,600 well-trained Japanese troops with 40 artillery pieces, nearly 500 pillboxes, and a complex system of trenches and fortifications.

Private Winkler was killed that day. He probably never made it ashore and was among the hundreds of Marines who were gunned down in the ocean as they tried to leave their landing vehicles. The 19-year-old's body was never recovered. He is remembered at the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 24, 1943

Date Added February 26, 2013

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