HARTWICK — A section of state Route 205 became the Sgt. John Kempe Winslow Memorial Highway during a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 5.
Winslow, a 1964 Cooperstown Central School graduate and hamlet of Hartwick native, died in 1969 during his second tour in Vietnam, a victim of a friendly airstrike gone wrong.
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, who co-sponsored the resolution to get the highway named for Winslow, unveiled the sign along with Winslow’s friends and family at an outdoor event on a large field in south Hartwick, near one of the two signs.
“Every man and woman who dons a United State military uniform sacrifices for our freedoms and our way of life,” Seward said. “John made the ultimate sacrifice and we owe it to him, his family and the entire Hartwick community to keep the memory of its favorite son of Hartwick alive. And that is why we are gathered here today.”
The resolution honoring Winslow had passed the state legislature and been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic and Sen. Seward’s health postponed the unveiling twice.
More than 80 people attended the event Monday, although they were socially distant. Almost everyone wore masks and only a few people walked to the area where the sign was unveiled.
Winslow’s friends and family told stories about “Johnny” and how he loved to hike, hunt and fish, play golf and wrestle.
Winslow had been injured in his leg during his first tour of Vietnam. He won a Purple Heart Award and spent several months recuperating on Long Island.
“It wasn’t just a band aid on a wound,” Michael Winslow, John’s younger brother, said. “I can remember John pulling shrapnel out of his leg weeks after he left the hospital.”
When his injuries had healed, Winslow re-enlisted. He served most of his second tour and was about a month away from coming home when he died.
“I just know that he was a true Marine and loved the U.S. Marine Corps,” said Wayne Munn, a childhood neighbor and schoolmate of Winslow. “Johnny followed in the footsteps of a military family.”
The highway designation was requested by the town of Hartwick, Hartwick American Legion Post 1567, Cooperstown American Legion Post 579 and Cooperstown VFW Post 7128.
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7218.