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Private First Class
Johnnie P. Winfrey
U. S. Army

June 1, 1945 - September 18, 1965
Roselawn Memorial Park
Van Vleck, Matagorda County, Texas

Gold Star Mother

Elva Lois Chancellor Winfrey


Location on the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington, D. C.

Panel 02E   Line 090

Johnnie Winfrey, 20, Killed in Viet Nam
Paratrooper Dies During Heavy Action

The war in Viet Nam suddenly seemed much more real to Bay City and Matagorda County today. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis F. Winfrey of [Bay City] received a telegram Sunday morning that their son, Johnnie, was killed "as a result of hostile action" while serving with the 101st Airborne Division, the famous "Screaming Eagles," in Viet Nam. The Winfrey's received the telegram from the Department of The Army at 11:30 a.m. It was signed by Major General J. C. Lambert, Adjutant General of the U.S. Army. Funeral services for Winfrey, at a time yet to be determined, will be in St. Paul's Methodist Church here with Rev. Preston Dumas and Rev. George Townley officiating. Interment will be in Forest Park Cemetery, near Webster on the Gulf Freeway in the Greater Houston Area. Johnnie entered the Army on May 6, 1963, completed his basic training at Camp Polk, La., completed paratroop training at Fort Benning, Ga., special forces school at Fort Bragg, N.C., and then transferred to the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, Ky., on June 18. He arrived in Viet Nam July 28 as a member of the 101st. He was a PFC. The wording of the Army telegram said "Winfrey was killed as a result of hostile action while with his unit engaged in search and destroy operations. The unit engaged a hostile action group in small arms ground fire. Complete circumstances are unknown." Johnnie was a member of the Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, and the Woodmen of the World. Survivors besides his parents include his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Mary Patton and paternal grandmother, Mrs. Rebecca Carr of Houston. A representative of the Commanding General of the 4th U.S. Army will accompany the body and will assist the family in making arrangements. Taylor Bros. Funeral Home is in charge of the services. [NOTE: Johnnie's body was later moved to Roselawn Memorial Park in Van Vleck, Matagorda County, Texas.]

The Daily Tribune, September 20, 1965

Full Military Rites Tuesday for Winfrey

Funeral services for Private First Class Johnnie Winfrey, killed in Viet Nam combat about one week ago, will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Paul's Methodist Church. Rev. George Townley and Rev. Preston Dumas will officiate. Interment will be at 3 p.m. in Forest Park East, south of Houston near Webster. There will be no procession from the church. A full military funeral will be held. Pfc. Winfrey's body arrived in Houston from Viet Nam at 8:02 p.m. Saturday. His body is lying in state at Taylor Brothers Funeral Home with military guard.

The Daily Tribune, September 27, 1965

Lebanon Grim Reminder of Vietnam to Couple

[NOTE: Information about Johnnie Paul Winfrey abstracted from article.]

Sunday will mark the 18th anniversary of Johnnie Paul Winfrey's death. Johnnie was the 197th American soldier, and the first of over 20 Matagorda Countians who lost their lives in the conflict. Young Winfrey, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles division, was killed in a search-and-destroy mission on Sept. 18, 1965. He was only a few months past his 20th birthday and had been in Vietnam since the end of July of that year. Winfrey had eight more months before his current term of enlistment was due to expire. The Winfreys will honor the memory of their son this weekend by flying the American flag in front of their home. The Winfreys said their son often spoke of the fact in his letters home that American soldiers were not allowed to shoot until shot at and that the U.S. was unclear in its motives for being in the country. "He often said he never was really sure who the enemy was and I think that the situation in Lebanon is similar," Mrs. Winfrey noted. Johnnie Paul's presence can still be felt in the Winfrey home. One corner of the immaculate living room has many of his pictures and mementoes he sent from Vietnam adorn several shelves. Winfrey, though not born in Bay City, grew up here and was active in school football, Future Farmers of America, the Civil Air Patrol and Boy Scouts. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the army, transferring first to the Green Berets and then the 101st Airborne. The Winfreys said their son was strongly devoted to his country and believed it was necessary for Americans to go to Vietnam. " Johnnie refused to take the exemption from serving that he could have taken because he was our only child. He said he thought the situation over there would not last long," Mrs. Winfrey said.

The Daily Tribune, September, 1983

Bay City High School annual pictures courtesy of Matagorda County Museum.



Funeral services for Lewis Paul Winfrey, 74, of Bay City will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Taylor Brothers Funeral Home chapel with the Rev. William Haskell and Dr. James Cowart officiating. Graveside services will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Forest Park Cemetery East, Houston.

Mr. Winfrey was born Oct. 27, 1912 in Dayton, Texas, to Sadie Cornet and Rebecca Harbour Winfrey and died Dec. 16, 1986, at Matagorda General Hospital.

A resident of Bay City since 1952, he was a member of the American Legion, Blessing Post, Fraternal Order of Eagles and Woodmen of the World and St. Paul's Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Elva Lois Winfrey of Bay City, a sister, Joyce Grimsinger of Midland, a brother, Sammy Winfrey of Houston, and several nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers include Glenn Sedam, David Rainwater, Shirley Eidson, George Kilbride, A. C. Herreth and Waddie Cole.

Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home in Bay City.

The Daily Tribune, Tuesday, December 16, 1986

[NOTE: Mr. Winfrey's body was later moved to Roselawn Memorial Park in Van Vleck, Matagorda County, Texas.]

Vietnam Veterans Memorial rubbing courtesy of Anette Uher.


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Feb. 5, 2006
Jan. 16, 2010