RANDALL “RANDY” WILLIAM WINDSTEIN
January 15, 1947 – October 3, 2017
Randy was born, the only child, to William Joseph “Rosebud” Windstein (1915-1999) and Martha E. Kahl Windstein (1914-2009) on January 15, 1947 in Pittsburgh, PA. The “War to end all Wars” had just concluded and Randy’s father returned in March of 1946 from his wartime service in the US Navy. Winters tend to be cold in Pittsburgh in January, yet the birth of Randy brought new warmth to the Windstein home in the “Steel City” in 1947.
Randy was born, raised and died a resident of Pittsburgh. Both of his parents as well as his grandmother, Catherine, were also lifelong residents. The strength of Pittsburgh Steel was in their family DNA.
Randy graduated in 1965 from the Baldwin High School, in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District of Pittsburgh. Shortly after graduation, he was to begin his military career that would lead him to Kontum Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It was there that Randy really began his life.
Randy belonged to a new breed of soldiers, resurrected from ideas successful in previous wars. In the initial stages of the United States presence in Vietnam, the clear lack of real-time intelligence nearly allowed the NVA to overrun Col. Hal Moore’s 1/7th Cav in the Ia Drang, a battle related in the book and movie “We Were Soldiers Once….and Young”. Shortly after that hard-won battle, the Cav was replaced by the 4th Infantry Division with the mission to “Tame the Ia Drang”. One of the first decisions was to determine how best to know the enemy. The solution was to insert 4-man teams of Rangers, then called LRRPs, to surreptitiously live in the jungle amongst the enemy. They would be inserted into the jungle for extended missions and patrol an area of suspected enemy concentration to uncover weaknesses. Lt. Mike Lapolla was tasked with forming the first of these units in early 1967 as the 2nd Bde. LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol) of the 4th Infantry Division. Randy served in the 2nd Bde LRRPs and it was to forever change his life. Knowing the extremely hazardous duties and the likelihood of incurring casualties, it was comprised exclusively of willing volunteers. Volunteers with Steel in their DNA.
As the success and reputation of 2nd Bde LRRPs grew, other units were formed in each of the Brigades and each of the Divisions. Ultimately, the decision was made to unify the missions and rename the units. All of the LRRPs were assembled into Ranger units of the 75th Infantry, with each Division receiving one Company. All 4th Division LRRPs were to become K Company, 75th (Rangers) Infantry. Today, we Rangers still alive, and those yet to be, recognize and celebrate the debt the service all Rangers like Randy earned. In their unselfish battle against our enemies they brought great honor upon their families, brother Rangers and their country.
Randy distinguished himself as a LRRP. He was a fierce warrior on patrol and an untiring party guy during stand-down. The respect and admiration he earned from all who had the privilege of serving with him has not diminished one bit in the many years that have passed. His death will have no affect on those who walked along side him and who knew the value of having a “brother” you never doubted, it will just begin a new mission.
For his service, Randy received a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. Additionally, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, that can only be earned by an Infantryman facing the enemy in actual combat conditions. Prior to his honorable Discharge, Randy was awarded numerous other awards and decorations, which as with all Rangers are seldom worn, but inscribed forever on their heart.
Upon returning from the service, Randy married the beautiful Barbara Blum Windstein (1947), they remained in love throughout it all. Together, they proudly gifted daughters Erin A. Windstein and Sarah B. Windstein to the world. Randy owned and operated his own automotive repair business in Allentown, PA where his long-time customers became accustomed to being dealt with fairly and with an innate integrity.
Randy left us unexpectedly on October 3, 2017 to join his brother Rangers, all taken too soon. His family, knowing his lifelong commitment to honor those who served, requested donations to the “Wounded Warrior Project” and the Humane Society in lieu of flowers. After all, Randy was exposed to all the vegetation he needed in his life, long ago, in the big, bad jungles of the Central Highlands.
His remains rest in his beloved City of Pittsburgh, but his spirit certainly is “pulling” missions with his friends and brother Rangers in a different A.O.