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Winkelmann remembered as brave solider, loyal brother and son

Ryan Winkelmann and his daugher Kinsey share a happy moment. (Contributed)

Ryan Winkelmann was son, father, brother, friend, decorated infantryman and a first sergeant in the U.S. Army.

He was brought home to rest on Jan. 15 with full military reception at Huntsville International Airport.

Winkelmann most recently served with the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. for 1.5 years. “You have to be nominated for Honor Guard,” his mother DeLourdes Booker said. Winkelmann, 24, had to meet strenuous physical requirements and trained for three months.

“Ryan was stationed at Fort Myer and handled funerals with 21-gun salutes at Arlington National Cemetery and also worked at White House ceremonies,” Booker said.

More than 400 people attended Winkelmann’s visitation. “Ryan was very loyal and caring to all his friends and family,” Booker said. “He lived by the code of God, family, friends and country. That’s the kind of person he was. Ryan was very inspirational to anyone he met.”

Winkelmann’s military honors include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Expert Rifleman’s Ribbon, Service Medal, National Defense Ribbon and two Overseas Ribbons for tours in Iraq.

His first appointment was in Hawaii, where he used off time to hike and camp. In Iraq, Winkelmann was assigned on one special mission that encountered a direct attack, and he carried a fellow, wounded soldier to safety.

Winkelmann and ex-wife Shay McKee have one daughter, four-year-old Kinsey Winkelmann. In May 2012, he remarried, and Nikole Winkelmann is expecting their child in June. “We know it’s a boy. His name will be James Ryan Winkelmann,” Booker said.

Ryan’s father and stepmother are Joseph and Diana Winkelmann. With his blended family, Ryan had four sisters and two brothers.

Ryan played Patriots football at Bob Jones High School. In recreation leagues, he played baseball. “He almost turned pro in skateboarding. He liked weightlifting, skydiving and hanging with his friends and family,” Booker said.

Winkelmann passed away suddenly in early January due to a medical condition. Booker said “no foul play” was involved. The family is awaiting results of medical tests.

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