Legion of Valor Cross awarded to Eastern cadet during Veterans Day service

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

It all started with a desire to help people.

That is what Joseph Winkler, an Eastern Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadet said Friday morning after receiving The Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement during the Veterans Day Ceremony in Old Main.

Winkler led the ceremony, introducing each speaker and guiding audience members through each presentation, but had no idea he was going to receive the award.

“I actually almost passed out,” he said after hearing Eastern President David Glassman announce his name, asking him to come up to the podium and accept his award.

Winkler is a senior sociology major and currently serves as the cadet battalion commander for the ROTC Panther Battalion.

Glassman said in his speech Winkler will receive commission as a transportation officer in the National Guard after graduating Eastern in May and will pursue his master’s degree in clinical psychology and counseling.

“He looks very humble right now,” Glassman said after reading off the lists of achievements Winkler accomplished such as graduating from air assault school in Fort Benning, Ga. and finishing in the top 15 percent of his class at Advanced Training in Fort Knox, Ky. “And he’s that kind of an individual,” Glassman said.

However, though the award is one of the highest honors a cadet can achieve and was only given to 80 cadets in the nation, Winkler maintained his humble demeanor.

“I almost don’t feel deserving and I normally don’t because I don’t feel like I’ve put forth as much sacrifice as (veterans) have,” he said referring to the room filled with several veterans, including student veterans, who clapped as he shook his head and made his way to the podium, graciously accepting the award.

Winkler said he has been in the service for about seven years and is just starting off his military career.

Therefore, he said it was also humbling to be able to speak for the veterans and on the behalf of the fallen.

“This award, I didn’t expect at all. They weren’t lying when they said I had no idea,” he said.

After joining in high school, Winkler said he always wanted to be in the military but not because of family ties or tradition.

“I just have a deep desire to help people and I joined in high school to go help people,” he said. “I just wanted to do something with the bigger impact and that’s why I made the transition from the (Noncommissioned Officer) route to the commissioned officer side.”

Winkler said growing up, he has seen “bad stuff” and has always been a protector by nature.

“If I could have the power to help somebody or help somebody not be hurt or make their day better, that’s what I would go for,” Winkler said.

Using his helpful nature to motivate himself, Winkler said he is and has always been motivated to do the best he can so he can help more people in the future.

“I want to make myself better so that I can help people more and I can help more people in the future,” he said.

As for what to do next after receiving the award, he said just wants to move along as usual while helping people along the way.

“That’s it,” he said in regards to helping others. “That’s what it’s always been about.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].