Fallen Heroes: Private Daniel K. Hinkel

There are may families where multiple siblings serve their country in the military, in peacetime and during periods of conflict. A large percentage of those families’ sons and daughters will serve without suffering any loss at all. There are those cases however, like this one, where the family sacrifices one of those children to conflict.

Jacob Hinkel (1828-?), a shoemaker born in Germany, arrived in Baltimore in the summer of 1850 to start a new life in a new country. Three years after arriving he married another recent German immigrant named Catherine (1835-?). The couple had two children, a daughter and son, who were listed with the family in the 1860 census for Baltimore’s 7th Ward. The son, William Hinkel (1855-1946), left the household sometime before the 1880 census. He was recorded as boarding in a another home and working as a laborer.

William was probably working for the railroad in the 1880s and that work in due course carried him to Stark County, Ohio by the time he married Flora Marchand (1861-1924) there in 1883. Later census records recorded him as serving as a section boss and supervisor for the railroad. William and Flora raised five children, four daughters and one son named Francis J. Hinkel (1884-1953). Francis, after marrying Mary Ellen Meagher (1888-1967) in 1906, started a small farm in Stark County. Francis and Mary, usually called Ella, raised seven children including a son named Louis W. Hinkel (1909-1988).

Louis worked on his father’s farm and attended school in his youth before finding work at a factory in Stark County. He married Mary L. Floom (1911-2004) in October 1936 and, shortly after, started their family. The couple eventually moved to Dover, Ohio and raised their seven children there; four daughters and three sons. All three sons served their country in their youth, one in the air force and two in the army. Only their youngest son was called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.

That son, Daniel K. Hinkel (1945-1969), watched as his elder brothers served during the late 1950s. Daniel attended school in Dover, graduating from Dover High School in the spring of 1963. He did not, however, immediately enter military service. Instead, he attended and graduated from Cleveland State University where he was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. Shortly after his graduation in the spring of 1968, Daniel was drafted into the United States Army.

Daniel, along with other men inducted in August 1968, was transported to Fort Knox, Kentucky to undergo basic training. Following basic training, Daniel was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for further advanced infantry training. After completing his advanced infantry training, Private Hinkel was assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division then stationed in the central highlands of Vietnam near the city of Pleiku, where he arrived on January 12, 1969.

Private Daniel K. Hinkel in Vietnam, 1969. (Source: SigEp Patriots Project on findagrave.com)

Private Hinkel arrived in Kon Tum Province, Vietnam during a surge in enemy activity. According to one after-action report for the period, the region “experienced an extensive increase in enemy activity with emphasis shifting from Viet Cong to NVA units. US forces received heavy attacks.” Units of the 4th Infantry Division, including Private Hinkel’s, were being regularly engaged by North Vietnamese units all across the province. The United States Army’s fire support bases and infantry patrols came under almost constant harassing fire.

Private Hinkel’s position was being resupplied by helicopter on 26 March 1969 when the landing zone came under intense enemy fire from both small arms and rockets. Private Hinkel, despite the obvious danger, stayed on the landing zone and continued to unload his unit’s much needed supplies. He was killed by enemy fire as he continued to unload the helicopter. He had only been in Vietnam for 73 days when he was killed. Private Hinkel was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for his bravery on that day. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Massillon.

Daniel K. Hinkel’s headstone in Calvary Cemetery, Massillon, Stark County. (Source: findagrave.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.


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