Marine Sgt. Jeannette Winters' funeral


Greed makes me sick.
Greed, when it comes at the cost of another person’s or families’ emotions makes me even sicker.
When it comes at the cost of the families’ emotions of a person who was killed in action while serving our country — well, I just can’t even fathom sinking THAT low!
Take the case of Matthew Winters Jr., brother of the late Marine Sgt. Jeannette Winters.

An Arlington marker honors Winters with the others who were killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Marine Sgt. Jeannette Winters became the first U.S. servicewoman to die in the war in Afghanistan when a tanker plane crashed into a mountain in Pakistan in January 2002.
Life Magazine covered her funeral, as well as many other press agencies and newspapers, including the Gary Post Tribune. Winters is from Gary, Indiana and went to Calumet High School – the school is blocks away from where my mother and step-father lived.
The story goes like this: While the family was mourning the loss of their loved one during her funeral, somebody broke into the families’ home and robbed them.
That is disgusting.
What follows is even worse than that.
Winters’ father and the rest of the family decided to put her belongings in a storage unit because they were in fear of another break-in at the home. Years later, Winters’ father became ill and subsequently missed some of the payments on the storage unit. Well, the owner of the storage unit sold the contents. This happens often and is justified.
Enter Mr. Mark Perko, a businessman who owns a furniture store in neighboring Lake Station, IN. He purchased the families’ mementos and documents of Jeannette Winters.
The family asked to get the property back and according to the Post Tribune article, Perko said, “This is how I make my living,” Perko, a Hobart, IN resident, said. “This is how I feed my kids.”
Perko claims that soon after first purchasing the items, he reached out to Winters’ family through a friend with connections to the U.S. Marine Corps. He said he never heard back, but he declined to say if he would have donated them to the family then, according to the article.
“If they left it in a storage unit, obviously it didn’t mean a whole hell of a lot,” Perko said.
In the meantime, the Sgt. Jeannette Winters Center for Homeless Female Veterans was dedicated last week in the Glen Park neighborhood of Gary, IN. Robert Farmer, executive director of Webb House Inc. offered Perko $1,000 and 4 tickets to a Chicago Bears football game (which in Northwest Indiana is as good as gold) and Perko refused the offer.
Perko said he isn’t seeking bids on the property, but he reached out to participants of last week’s dedication of the homeless shelter named after Winters. He connected with Farmer, who said he visited Perko’s business with Matthew Winters to verify the collection’s authenticity.
Farmer said it was definitely her stuff.
The collection includes Winters’ dog tags and funeral flag, her birth certificate and a report about the crash that took her life. Perko also has letters from President Bush, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, an Indiana General Assembly proclamation and a Gary City Council resolution. Also included are Winters’ military records and medals, her personal photographs and address book, and a white Calumet High School graduation gown and a vial of sand from Pakistan.
Her brother Matthew, who now lives in California, remains in Gary, hoping to work out a deal with Perko in order to retrieve the families’ mementos.
Matthew says he just wants some piece of mind and closure.
I don’t understand how someone like Perko can do this other than greed being the motivation. I hope the family can make deal with Perko to get the stuff back. It belongs in the homeless veteran’s shelter bearing Winters’ name. At least the family should be able to have this woman’s stuff. I’m sure it means a lot to them and a lot more than just a few bucks.
I just can’t imagine someone not having the common decency to return at cost the items to the family of a loved one who was killed while serving their country.
The total equals a large amount of GREED! In my mind it’s just as bad as the people who broke into the home during the funeral.

Marine Sgt. Jeannette L. Winters

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