Philip E Windorski, Jr.
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Army
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 066-09
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died from wounds suffered when two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters crashed January 26, 2009, in Kirkuk, Iraq. They were assigned to the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York.
Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski,
Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minnesota
The incident is under investigation.
For further information contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-8286.
26 January 2009:
A Minnesota woman says her son was among four Americans killed when two U.S. helicopters crashed in northern Iraq.
Ruth Windorski of Grand Rapids says she learned Monday that her 36-year-old son, Philip Windorski Jr., was among those killed in the single deadliest incident for U.S. troops in four months.
Philip Windorski grew up in Grand Rapids, in northern Minnesota, and was recently stationed out of Fort Drum, New York.
His mother says Windorski was a couple of years away from retirement, but planned to re-up. She says he was on his third tour of Iraq. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
His mother says Windorski "was a great pilot, and he loved the Army more than anything."
A U.S. military statement says the crash did
not appear to be a result of hostile fire.
The helicopter crash which killed Grand Rapids native Chief Warrant Officer Philip Windorski near Kirkuk, Iraq in late January was found to be a result of enemy fire, according to an Army investigation.
“The two OH-58D helicopters were engaged and struck by hostile fire while conducting a reconnaissance mission,” said Julie Cupernall, deputy public affairs officer for Fort Drum, New York, via a phone interview.
Two Kiowa Warrior helicopters collided with each other on January 26, 2009, killing Windorski along with three other soldiers. Both helicopters were also destroyed. Initial reports from the Army said the crash was not caused by enemy fire. Cupernall said this information was not issued to mislead, that preliminary investigation did not show enemy fire was involved. She said the U.S. Army Aircraft Shootdown Assessment Team performed the investigation.
Cupernall added that the families of the soldiers were notified before the new information was released to the public. Also killed in the crash were Joshua Tillery, 31, of Beaverton, Oregon; Matthew Kelley, 30, of Cameron, Missouri.; and Benjamin Todd, 29, of Colville, Washington. All four were warrant officers in the 10th Mountain Division's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Karin Windorski, Philip’s wife, said the news was a relief for her family.
“We knew, without any doubt, how well-trained and highly professional my husband and Chief Warrant Officer Twos Tillery, Kelley and Todd were,” she said. “Having the status changed from accident to hostile fire - combat related was, in a way, a relief for us. We know that because of their training, had they been able to change the outcome of that night, they would have done so.”
Karin Windorski said that her husband was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star from the Army, and on Friday she was notified he was being posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a third Air Medal.
She said that he loved Grand Rapids and had planned on moving back after he retired from the Army. Because he loved the community so much, the family plans on giving back through a memorial fund which was set up after his death. The family is looking at a possible scholarship fund and ways to give back to area youth sports.
“He loved to coach,” said Karin. “He coached both peewee football and Little League baseball for several years.”
"As a representative of Grand Rapids, my husband was willing to lay his life down for his country if it was asked of him,” she added. “That willingness is what made him a hero to myself, his children and his family.”
Windorski joined the Army after he graduated from Grand Rapids High School with honors in 1991. At the time of his death, he was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Donations to the fund may be made to the Philip
Windorski, Jr. Memorial Fund, c/o First National Bank of Deerwood, 516
S. Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids, MN 55744.
It was full military honors for Chief Warrant Officer Philip Windorski Jr.
The 35-year-old helicopter pilot died in Iraq two weeks ago.
His casket was marched into the Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, past dozens of flags flowing in the wind. Members of the Patriot Guard turned out in force.
Then it was time for a special military roll call. Several comrades' names were read first. They responded with "Here, sir." Then Windorski's name was called. One of the soldiers then said, "Sir, he's no longer with us, he's gone ahead of us."
Reverend Lynn Ronsberg gave the 200+crowd a comforting sermon, emphasizing that Windorski will remain alive with memories and stories.
His commitment to his family and the service, was front and center. He leaves behind a wife, Karin, and three children.
"His wife Karin told me that he said he serves because hopefully my son won't have to," Ronsberg said.
A musical group played the popular country song "American Soldier," which moved some of the mourners to tears.
Then, the ceremony moved outside, for the traditional 21-gun salute, taps, and then the flag folding.
And finally, a special military honor for Windorski. Two helicopters made a fly-over.
Windorski's ashes will return with his wife and children to New York.
Chief Warrant Office Windorski will be laid to rest with full military honors on 18 March 2010.
WINDORSKI, PHILIP E
WINDORSKI, PHILIP EUGENE JR
Posted: 30 October 2009 Updated: 18 March 2010 Updated: 22 August 2010 Updated: 30 June 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, August 2010