Biography and photo compliments of Bonnie Winn (granddaughter)
Erich Ernst Winn was born January 24, 1904, in the German coastal village of Bremerhaven to parents Ernest and Helene (Goth) Winn. At age 19, Erich boarded the ship “America,” embarked for New York City, and landed at Ellis Island on Armistice Day, November 11, 1923. With his entry into the U.S. and the hopes of shedding some of his “German-ness,” he changed the spelling of his first name from the more European “Erich” to a more Westernized “Eric” and began life in America working as a mechanical draftsman for Precision Machine Corp in New York City.
In 1924, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was first stationed at the historic Madison Barracks in upstate New York. It was there in Jefferson County that he met and married Doris Mae Cummings, began raising a family, and applied for U.S. citizenship. His home base was always New York, and he was a New Yorker at heart, though his military travels took him and his growing family everywhere from Sackets Harbor, NY to Fort Bragg, NC, to Jacksonville, FL, to San Antonio, TX, to Blue Ridge Summit, PA, to Syracuse, NY, to Frankfort, Germany, to Baltimore, MD, and finally back to New York (Long Island).
In the years preceding WWII, the U.S. Army realized that they had a valuable commodity in Eric Winn, with his fluency in German and technical arts background-- and thus began training him in the Intelligence field. Courses in POW interrogation, photo interpretation and strategic Intelligence helped prepare him for his most significant duty assignment: Intelligence Staff Officer (G-2) to the USFET (U.S. Forces in the European Theater) and after the war as consultant at the Wiesbaden and Offenbach Collection Facilities‘ documents control group.
When he returned to the U.S. in September 1947, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and continued onto Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC) training at Fort Holabird, MD, and the School of International Service (SIS) in Washington D.C. The exact nature of his duties following the war are unknown, but over the course of his 29 years of military service to the U.S., he was awarded The American Defense Service Medal, The American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Korean Service Medal, UN Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and five Overseas Bars. He also inspired his two sons to serve in the US Military. After his retirement in 1953, he worked as a Private Investigator for Penn Protective Services in New York, NY. Lt. Col. Eric Ernst Winn died April 18, 1963, in South Ozone Park, NY, at the age 59 and is buried at Long Island National Cemetery.