Philip "Ski" Eugene Windorski, Jr.

Army Badge
  • Name: Philip "Ski" Eugene Windorski Jr.
  • Location of Birth: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: August 16, 1973
  • Date of Death: January 26, 2009 (35 years old)
  • Parents: Philip Windorski, Sr. and Ruth (Seavey) Windorski
  • High School and Class: 1991 - Grand Rapids High School, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • College:
  • Highest Rank: CWO 3 (Chief Warrant Officer)
  • Branch: Army
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: 2003
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge: January 26, 2009 (Killed In Action)
  • Place of Discharge:
  • Military Awards:
    Purple Heart
    Bronze Star
    Air Medal (3)
    Army Commendation Medals (5)
    Army Achievement Medals (5)
    Presidential Unit Citations (2)
    Army Good Conduct Medals (2)
    National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
    Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
    Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal
    Iraqi Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star,
    Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
    Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon
    Army Service Ribbon
    NATO Medal
    Senior Army Aviator Badge
    Overseas Service Ribbon
    Combat Action Badge

  • Military Highlights:
    Information from news article from Grand Rapids Herald Review, dated January 28, 2009 by Marie Nitke:

    Philip Windorski, Jr., a 36-year old man from Grand Rapids, was one of four Americans killed early Monday when two U.S. helicopters crashed in northern Iraq.

    A pilot in the U.S. Army, Windorski went into the military after graduating with honors from Grand Rapids High School in 1991. He had recently been re-stationed from Alabama to Fort Drum, New York.

    He leaves behind his wife, whom he met in the Army and three children.

    Ruth Windorski stated that Philip was very close to his two brothers and his family. He really loved the Army and he had wanted to go ever since he was a little kid.

    Windorski was a couple of years away from possible retirement in the military, but had planned to reenlist. He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

    A local memorial service will be held, pending specifications of the Army.

    According to national media reports, the helicopter crash that claimed Windorski's life is the single deadliest incident for U.S. troops in four month. A U.S. military statement said the crash did not appear to be a result of hostile fire. The military did not disclose the site of the crash, but police and residents said the helicopters went down about 10 miles southwest of Kirkuk.

    Windorski's death brings to 75 the number of people with strong Minnesota ties who have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Immediate Release No. 066-09
    January 29, 2009
    DoD Identifies Army Casualties

    The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They did 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.

    Killed were:
    Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski, Jr., 35, of Bovey, Minnesota
    Chief Warrant Officer Matthew G. Kelley, 30, of Cameron, Missouri
    Chief Warrant Officer Joshua M. Tillery, 31, of Beaverton, Oregon
    Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin B. Todd, 29, of Colville, Washington

    The incident is under investigation.

    January 26, 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 this 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.

    News article from Grand Rapids Herald Review, dated February 11, 2009:
    Grand Rapids soldier killed in Iraq laid to rest

    After offering up the ultimate sacrifice of his life for his country, a funeral for a Grand Rapids native was held at Zion Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Minnesota Saturday afternoon.

    Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski, Jr., 35, was killed near Kirkuk, Iraq on January 26 when the helicopter he was in collided with another. He was one of four soldiers killed in the crash.

    "Phil died serving his country. And you . And me," said Rev. Lynn Ronsberg during the funeral service, pausing between each phrase.

    Windorski's body arrived in Grand Rapids Thursday morning and was escorted by a solemn procession of law enforcement and fire department vehicles from the airport to the funeral home. At noon Saturday, an honor guard from the Minnesota National Guard moved Windorski's casket to the waiting hearse, and another solemn procession down Pokegama Avenue, this time to Zion Lutheran Church, began.

    As the processional slowly proceeded, some people stopped, got out of their vehicles and stood with their hands over their hearts until the hearse passed. Closer to the church, members of the Patriot Riders lined both sides of Pokegama Avenue and up to the church, each standing at attention, no more than two to three feet apart, each with a full-size American flag held high. The Patriot Riders is a group which formed a few years back to keep protesters at bay during funerals for soldiers killed in the Middle East. There did not appear to be any protesters near the procession or church.

    The service, with several hundred in attendance, began with a roll call and when Windorksi's name was called, there was silence. His name was called again, and a soldier responded that Windorski was no longer with them, he'd gone on ahead.

    During the funeral sermon, Ronsberg said that death always comes too soon. She later reminded the mourners that the stories they share of Windorski would "bring Phil back to life again."

    Ronsberg said that Windorski had once said of his military service, "If I do it, hopefully my son won't have to."

    Following the service, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as the casket was slowly taken outside for military honors. After a rifle salute, two Blackhawk helicopters flew over the church. "Taps" was played, after which Windorski's wife, three children and mother were each presented an American flag.

    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 third tour of duty in Iraq.

    News article from Grand Rapids Herald Review, dated March 8, 2009:

    Grand Rapids soldier killed by enemy fire

    The helicopter crash that 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 the United State 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. Cupernail said this information was not issued to mislead, that preliminary investigation did not show enemy fire was involved.

    She said the United State 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 to 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.

  • Wars Involved:
    Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • MIA / POW:

  • Civilian Life:
    Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philip E. "Ski" Windorski, Jr., 35, most recently of Watertown, New York, died Monday, January 26, 2009. He was serving his country in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when the helicopter he was piloting was involved in an accident just outside of Kirkuk, Iraq. He was assigned to 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, New York.

    Philip was the oldest of Philip and Ruth's three sons. He attended Grand Rapids High School, graduating with Honors in 1991. Immediately after graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army.

    He met and married Karin (Clark), a fellow soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, on July 4, 1998. Phil and Karin have two children, Austin (9) and Emmalyn (6). Phil was also a devoted step-father to Karin's oldest daughter, Miranda (14).

    During high school, Phil was an employee of Forest Lake Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. After enlisting in the United States Army, Phil was an OH-58 (Observational Helicopter) A/C crew chief assigned to 1 - 227th AVN (Aviation) in Fort Hood, Texas. In 1998, he was selected for entry to the Warrant Officer Corps as a Rotary Wing Aviator. He completed his aviation training as a Honor Graduate at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 1999. His next assignment, at Fort Polk, Louisiana, was his first as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilot. He was deployed to Bosnia from 2001-2002 and then to Baghdad, Iraq from 2003-2004 with 4/2 ACR. Following his return from Iraq, Phil was selected to become an Instructor Pilot for the United States Army. He was instrumental in teaching and mentoring the next generation of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilots at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Following his teaching assignment, he moved on to 6/6 CAV, Fort Drum, New York, where he was assigned as the Standardization Pilot and was the senior aviator for Bravo Troop.

    He was an avid history buff with a passion for Early American and Civil War eras, as well as Roman history. He also loved his involvement with his local little league and recreation department football teams. He had a thirst for life, and good beer, which led him to study and master the art of homebrewing. In his own opinion, he was a great golfer and sharpshooting hunter as well. His passion was flying helicopters, but his true joy was found in time spent with his wife and children.

    He was preceded in death by his father, Philip Windorski, Sr., a United States Navy veteran, and his grandparents William Windorski, Muriel (Cartie) Windorski, Joseph Seavey, Ethel (Anderson) Thompson, and his step-grandmother Marilyn Seavey.

    Surviving besides his wife, Karin, are his children; a son, Austin; a daughter, Emmalyn; a step-daughter, Miranda; his mother, Ruth; two brothers and a sister-in-law, Bruce and Scott and Patty (Dowling). He was also uncle to Bruce's children, Kyra and Logan, and Scott's son, Owen. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. He leaves behind his beloved dog, Maximus Moose.

    He will be escorted home by his best friend and fellow Army Aviator, CW3 Christopher Ashe.

    Philip is buried in Arlington National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. (Section 60, Site 9164 and 9065)

    A copy of the proclamation honoring the late Chief Warrant Officer Philip E. Windorski, Jr., was presented to his family in September, 2009, by Leigh Serfling and Jim Denny of the Grand Rapids Police Department. The proclamation commemorated the life of Windorski who died Monday, January 26, 2009, while serving his country in Iraq as a member of the United States Army's 10th Mountain Division. It was made official on February 9, 2009, by Grand Rapids Mayor Dale Adams. The proclamation also recognized Windorski as a 1991 honors graduate of Grand Rapids High School and devoted husband and father. Windorski was a decorated soldier earning many awards including two Air Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, two Presidential Unit Citations, two Army Good Conduct medals, a National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star and several more. The proclamation directed the citizens of the City of Grand Rapids and its elected representatives to "honor Chief Warrant Office III Philip E. WIndorski, Jr. and his family for their courage and patriotism in making such a great sacrifice in the defense of freedom." Accepting the proclamation on behalf of their brother and son were Scott, Bruce, and Ruth Windorski.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):