A former standout UConn student-athlete and an American military hero is now being honored in a special way as the country celebrates Veterans Day this weekend.
The letter sweater of John Winzler ’42 (CLAS) was recently presented by his family to the J. Robert Donnelly Husky Heritage Sports Museum, located in the Alumni House in Storrs, and is now on display.
A native of Manchester, Winzler was a three-sport athlete during his undergraduate years – playing basketball, baseball, and football. He was the basketball captain his senior year and was a two-time All-New England pick.
Following graduation, Winzler joined the Marines and became a first lieutenant with the Fifth Division, 28th Marines. That division was involved in the famous flag raising on the island of Iwo Jima. Winzler was wounded at Iwo Jima and, as his family understands it, doctors did not want him to return to battle, but he insisted on returning to his division to lead them. The doctors relented and he did return to duty days later, but was killed in action on March 3, 1945.
Winzler is remembered on the Roll of Honor in the Alumni House for UConn graduates who have died in battle and also at The National Iwo Jima Memorial in New Britain.
His nephew Mark Winzler, also of Manchester, is his last close relative and contacted the school about donating the sweater, which was enthusiastically accepted.
The sweater is in perfect condition and had been kept in a cedar chest for decades.
A ceremony was held in the museum to accept the gift and was attended by Mark Winzler and friends of his family. The Director of UConn’s Veterans Affairs and Military Programs Alyssa Keller and outreach coordinator Emily Lugo were in attendance, along with Director of Men’s Basketball Administration Paul Wettemann, baseball pitching coach Josh MacDonald, and baseball student-athletes Garrett Coe ’24 (BUS), Luke Broadhurst, and Jake Studley, both graduate students.