The community came together last Saturday to celebrate Veterans Day and honor one of Rockville Centre’s fallen heroes. A permanent monument, placed outside the Recreation Center, was dedicated to Ronald Winchester.
Winchester, 25, of Rockville Centre, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2001. He was on his second tour in Iraq in 2004, when he was killed by a roadside bomb in the country’s Anbar province.
A lineman for the Naval Academy’s football team, Winchester joined the Marines after graduating. As reported in 2004, when the Herald named Winchester its Person of the Year, he had always dreamed of following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dominick Gatta, a former Marine and an ex-professional boxer.
The events of Sept. 11, 2001 solidified Winchester’s commitment to join the Marines, and he became a first lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. He earned the Purple Heart, a Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and a National Defense Service Medal.
The Veterans Day Parade stepped off at South Side High School at 11 a.m. and finished at the Recreation Center, where a monument to honor those who fought in the Global War on Terrorism was unveiled. The Rockville Centre American Legion Post 303 hosted the event, and the keynote speaker was Mayor Francis X, Murray, who lauded Winchester for his service.
“Ron exemplified superior moral character, extraordinary bravery and loyalty,” Murray said. “He is someone that Rockville Centre is proud to call their own. The enormity of his sacrifice is beyond compare. Our debt to this hero and every other one can never be repaid, but our gratitude and respect must last forever.”