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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Evans was hero in WWII

Thursday, March 28, 2002

SIKESTON - Winford Alvin "Wink" Evans was born April 10, 1918, in Canalou, youngest son of Gurley and Ettie May Kasinger Evans.

Evans, along with his three brothers and one sister, was raised on the family farm outside Sikeston. He had just turned 22 when he entered the service in July 1941, five months before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Evans and the 6th Division first participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers and Tennessee Maneuvers war games training. In 1942, he and his unit, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, went to Yuma, Ariz., to help develop the mechanized infantry division and General George Patton's tactics for North Africa. In March 1943, he and the 6th Division were sent to Oahu, Hawaii, for the amphibious and jungle warfare training they would need in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of World War II.

Following the rigorous training, Evans and the 6th Infantry Division landed in Milne Bay, New Guinea, Feb. 2, 1944. They entered battle for the first time on June 20 at Lone Tree Hill, Maffin Bay. Evans' unit, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its extraordinary heroism during what would turn out to be "the bloodiest 10 days of the New Guinea campaign" with over 800 6th Division casualties.

Thirty days later, the 6th Division executed an amphibious assault on the coast of Cape Sansapor, New Guinea.

On Jan. 9, 1945, the 6th Division received assault credit for its role in the landing at Luzon. The "Red Star" Division had begun what would eventually become 219 days of continuous combat - the longest consecutive stretch in the Pacific Theater.

Evans was by this time a squad leader and had earned a Bronze Star Medal with Valor for heroic achievement and leadership in action on April 19.

On July 31, just days before the end of World War II, Evans earned the nation's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his extraordinary heroism as well as the Purple Heart for wounds received during the battle.

Following the victory over Japan, Staff Sergeant Evans was honorably discharged in November 1945. He returned to live and work in Sikeston.

He married Jeanetta Rowark in September 1950 and moved to Rock Island, Ill., shortly after. They had one daughter, Penny. He retired from the Blackhawk Foundry and Machine Company in 1971.

Evans died Sept. 21, 1991, and was buried with military honors at the Rock Island National Cemetery.

Evans' personal decorations and awards in addition to the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart earned at Luzon include: the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and Oak Leaf Cluster indicating second award, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Arrowhead and two Bronze Campaign Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star for service and enemy engagement, Army Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon and Combat Infantryman Badge.