The veteran chosen to honor this year is a story of life. This year, with pride, we choose to honor a woman of the military. A woman of true valor, enormous courage and unspeakable faith. An amazing woman, who in the end, fought a personal battle, not in the traditional battle field, but a battle on her own turf.
Born in Sidney in 1956, Vicki Winsor Trinemeyer, grew up in Guilford and attended Bainbridge/Guilford School graduating in 1974. In 1979 Vicki enlisted in the United States Air Force in Amarillo, Texas. She was ranked as sergeant at the time of enlistment and her specialty was telecommunications operations specialist. Serving 5 years and 3 months she was to receive 5 medals leaving Elemendorf, Air Force Base, Alaska in 1985. By 1988 she was serving in Tampa, FL. During this period she was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was classified as Communications Computer Systems Supervisor. She was affiliated with the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron. Vicki was the first to volunteer for many missions. She was deployed several times to provide support during exercises and real world contingencies. The most noted was from August 1990 to April of 1991. She served the US Central Commands COMSEC Staff as support of operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. She served directly under Gen. Norman H. Schwarzkopf as his personal assistant. She was responsible for all assets of the headquarters in Riyadh. For her service she received many glowing recommendations from many officers and NCO’s. Vicki’s retirement, after 20 years came in 1996 from the Air Force and she served the Air National Guard, retiring in 1999.
Vicki was involved in many community organizations. In Anchorage, Alaska she volunteered almost 400 hrs for the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Center. She worked for the Municipality of Anchorage Dept. of Parks and Recreation as an aquatic instructor in the handicapped section. While living in Texas she worked for the Lubbock State School for the Mentally Retarded in the areas of sensory motor stimulation and was supervisor of recreation and social development.
Her service medals and awards were numerous. To name a few; she received the Alaska Humanitarian Medal in response to a life threatening emergency where she rescued a man who had a heart attack in a Wal-Mart store. She also aided in the relief efforts after hurricane Andrew and received the State Active Duty ribbon. She was selected as Airman of the Year for the Squadron of the Air National Guard. She was also named McDill Air Force Base Woman of the Year for 1993. While in the Air Force she also obtained in June of 1997 an Associates Degree in Information Systems Technology.
Vicki was also active in her church. She was a member of the Women’s Ministry Society for Aids Ministry, Assistant Choir director, Deaconess apprentice, and coordinator for the Sidewalk Sunday school Outreach and graduated from the Master Pastor Internship Program.
As mentioned before, she not only served her country with sacrifice and courage but in 1993 she faced the battle for her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a breast removed and after treatments was declared cancer free for 5 years. Then the word came, cancer had returned, this time in her other breast. Even though she was going through surgery and treatments her determination to survive was undaunted. During this time she decided to pursue her Bachelors Degree. It was because she was a fighter and didn’t want to leave that part of her life unfinished. She graduated in February of 1999 with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Occupational Education. Her dad, Richard as many knew him as “Rip” visited her in Alaska prior to his death in February of 1999. In November, around Thanksgiving time, her brother Bruce, and wife Jo Ann with children Rae and Kacie also took a trip to Alaska to visit her. By then she was very sick. Jo Ann said they “could not overlook the giant sized cards pinned up all over her house from the children she had connected with in Sunday school.”
Vicki passed away November 28th, 1999 at the very young age of 43. But this is not the end of an amazing legacy she left for us all. Last year before the Relay for Life 2009, Jo Ann and Bruce received a wonderful gift. 10 years had passed after her death and Vicki’s lawyer contacted them. They had a binder prepared by Vicki before she died and wondered who they might send it to as they didn’t want to throw it out as they would with many of their obsolete files. In the binder, as Jo Ann stated, “was Vicki’s last words, through the photographs of her smiling face. This is the legacy she left behind and the lives she changed with her spirit.”
10 years later, in 2009, this book shows up with many documents of medals, awards and letters of recommendations, service records, and volunteer activities. This was a key to telling this story of Vicki Winsor Trinemeyer’s life and accomplishments. Without it the story would not have been complete.
She lost the battle for her life in 1999 and is buried in Sunset Hill Cemetery near her dad. But she lives on in spirit and should you get a chance to donate to the American Cancer Society or participate in the Relay for Life, remember this girl from Guilford, her strength and courage and the inspiring legacy she left behind.