Perryville grad takes new job in Missouri Guard

Monday, September 24, 2012
Missouri National Guard Col. Linda Bode, left, pins a Meritorious Service Medal on the uniform of Lt. Col. Michael Winkler following a change of command ceremony for the 2nd Battalion, 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute, of Fort Leonard Wood, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. (Photo by Matthew J. Wilson)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The 2nd General Studies Battalion, 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute, of Fort Leonard Wood, recently held a change of command ceremony at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Lt. Col. James L. Bunch replaced Lt. Col. Michael Winkler, a 1979 graduate of Perryville High School, as both commander of second battalion and the full-time administrative officer of the 140th.

Col. Linda Bode, regiment commander of the institute, said Winkler helped both the battalion and the institute as a whole to excel.

"Lt. Col. Winkler provided superior leadership as commander of the General Studies Battalion and as the full-time executive officer for the 140th Regional Training Institute," Bode said. "Through his leadership and dedicated service, Training Doctrine Command school standards were enforced."

Bode said Bunch was the right person to carry on the high standards set by Winkler.

"As the new battalion commander, Lt. Col. Bunch will excel in carrying on Lt. Col. Winkler's work," she said. "His technical competence and strong management skills will ensure the 140th Regional Training Institute provides outstanding school support to National Guard, Army Reserve and active-duty Soldiers and Airmen."

New to the Missouri Guard after most recently serving on a deployment to east Africa with the Kansas Guard, Bunch said he was excited to take command.

"The Regional Training Institute has a rich tradition," said Bunch, who lives in Rolla. "I'm also really humbled and I'm going to do my best to continue the institute's success."

Bunch said his top priority as commander is to ensure the institute remains prepared to maintain its top-notch military instruction.

"My No. 1 goal is to make sure that we are positioned for the changes that we anticipate that are coming with the post-war drawdown and some constrained resources in the future," he said. "My second goal is to be sure that we continue to reinforce and stay ahead of the game in terms of doctrine and Army training procedures."

Winkler, who lives in Jefferson City, has been commander of the 2nd Battalion for 22 months and a member for the institute for more than four years.

"It's been fantastic -- one of the best experiences of my life," Winkler said.

Helping with the recent accreditation process, Winkler said it has been his biggest contribution to the institute. The 140th was recognized as a "Learning Institute of Excellence" by the U.S. Army Infantry School and Training and Doctrine Command in 2012.

For his efforts, Winkler was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony.

"To me, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the officers and noncommissioned officers with whom I worked with at the Regional Training Institute," Winkler said. "I was extremely proud to be recognized to have been a part of the many accomplishments. My time as the 2nd Battalion Commander was one of the most rewarding assignments I have had in my career, both personally and professionally."

His previous honors and awards include two Army Commendation Medals and the Army Achievement Medal.

Bunch has more than 18 total years of service, with about 5 on active duty and 13 as a Guardsman.

A 1988 graduate of Hallsville High School in Hallsville, Texas, Bunch earned a Bachelor's of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy in 1994 at West Point, N.Y. He added a Master's Degree in Economics from Kansas State University in 2003.

Bunch is supported in his military career by his wife, Robin, his son, Conor, and daughter, Caitlin, both 2; his four sisters, Shawn Stroud, who lives in Frisco, Texas, Kimberly Tutt, who lives in Frisco, Kristen Ramey, who lives in Houston, Texas, and Tiffany Graves, who lives in Houston; and his step-father Larry Graves, also of Houston.

Winkler, who has served for 33 years in the Missouri Guard, is now headed to Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City where he'll be the plans and program manager at the facilities office.

"I hope to be able to help support our Soldiers and their units the best I can from my new position," Winkler said.

In 2005, Winkler deployed for a year as a staff engineer with a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Afghanistan.

Winkler earned a Bachelor's of Science in Economics from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1986. He added a Master's Degree in Business from Touro University California in 2002.

Winkler is supported in his military career by his wife, Becky, his deceased father, Eugene Winkler, and his father in-law, Clyde Brown, who lives in Perryville. Eugene and Brown both served in the Missouri Guard.

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