• west paterson
  • Passaic
  • May 19, 1948
  • February 16, 1969
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SP4
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Harold J. Van Winkle, Jr.was born on May 19, 1948, to Harold Sr. and Florence Van Winkle.   He had a brother, David, and a sister, Arlene.  His home of record is West Paterson, NJ.  He graduated from Passaic Valley High School in 1966. 

Harold was nicknamed "Hatch."   He liked fishing and playing pool.  He played Little League baseball and in high school was on the baseball varsity team for three years.

Hatch entered the US Army in February 1968, and he attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4).  He was in the 5th Infantry Division.

Van Winkle was killed in action on February 16, 1969.  He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

He was buried in Holy Sepulcure Cemetery in Totowa, NJ. 

I was Hatch's best friend in High School and after.  I was his best man when he got married and Godfather for his son, Sean, who he never met.  Hatch was to be my best man when he came home from Vietnam in August 1969.

Harold J. Van Winkle Jr., Hatch, was born May, 19, 1948.  Hatch lived most of his life in West Paterson, NJ, where he attended School #4 and Memorial School.  Hatch graduated from Passaic Valley High School in Little Falls, NJ, in June of 1966.  While he was in high school, he played baseball, at the position of shortstop.  Hatch played on the freshman team his first year, and varsity the remaining three years.  After high school, Hatch worked as a warehouse worker and then for a painting contractor before entering the service in February of 1968.

Prior to Hatch entering the service, he met a lovely young woman who would later become his wife.  Her name was Linda Irvilino.  Hatch and Linda were madly in love.  She used to go and see him when he was stationed at Ft. Dix, after basic training, as often as possible.  They decided to get married as soon as Hatch finished A.I.T. (Advanced Infantry Training.)  The Army sent Hatch to an Oklahoma army base.  He was there a few weeks and was going to have Linda come out and live with him, when he got orders for Vietnam.  Also around this time, Linda found out that she was pregnant.  Hatch's tour in Vietnam started on August 28, 1968.

Linda had a baby boy, Sean, in November 1968.  Hatch was wounded the first time in November 1968.  He was sent to Japan for R&R when he called Linda and heard his son crying.  He never had the opportunity to hold or see his son because he was killed in action on 2/16/69, in Thau Thien Province in Vietnam.  Hatch's platoon was out on ambush patrol when they were overrun by a large group of NVA regulars.  His platoon panicked and ran.  Hatch and another soldier stood their ground and kept firing their weapons.  Their action allowed their platoon to escape, but it cost Hatch and the other soldier their lives.  Hatch was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for bravery. 

Written by Frank Lukaszewski, Friend
April 2004

Sources: Frank Lukaszewski(friend) and NJVVMF.


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