Skip to main content

Joseph Bernard Vinckevleugel

1LT in Signal Co, Special : Officer

Military occupational specialty: 600


Born 1917 in MI, Died 1983

Other residence(s): Detroit, MI; Jackson, MI
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: Univ. of Detroit
Notes: 2LT on Signal Company Special Roster, 20 Oct 1944
Source: Unit Shipment 10143-D, 23d HQ, from le Havre 23 June 1945; Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; photo from Ancestry®

Joseph Vinckevleugel was born on August 9, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan. Joe's father had been born in Antwerp, Belgium and his mother in Germany, and he had an older sister Anna.

Joe's father, John, worked at a company in Detroit called Gray Marine. Gray made marine motors and John was a machine tester.

Joe studied at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan for three years until his education was interrupted by the war. (While there he used the last name "Vinck," as was duly noted on his draft registration.)

In 1940, at the time of the census, he was working in "radio technical" at a broadcasting station.

His father was eventually promoted to Senior Test Room Foreman at Gray, and Joe worked there himself for a time on the Diesel Assembly Line (likely part-time while he was going to school). He was one of the first to enlist in the Army from Gray.*

Joe was commissioned a 2LT in the Army and served in the Signal Corps of the Ghost Army. Joe's sister, Anna (who appears to have also used the last name of "Vinck") also served during the war as a member of the Women's Army Corps (WAC).

Grey Marine circulated a wonderful promotional piece about Joe in 1945 which describes a visit Joe made to his Antwerp grandmother in late 1944. "Securing an 8-hour leave, he made his way by jeep or motorcycle to the city that his father left when he came to America years ago. He made inquiry of a policeman who took him through the wrecked streets to the address of the old family home. He found the house. He knocked on the door. When no one answered he walked in and found the interior gutted, roof gone. But there was a sign telling where the family could be found.

"He found them in a bomb shelter, for the buzz bombs were still coming over. There he met his uncle, who took him to his old grandmere. When she saw him walk in, a young giant of 6 foot 3, some 220 pounds of American Army, she was confused at first because he was just the image of his father as she remembered him.

"Then back across the road at night, a road that was under fire, to his HQ where he secured a second leave of 8 hours, so he could go back with some gifts of candy and coffee and things, and he sent home a picture with his arm around his stout-hearted old grandmother."

Joe was released from the Army with the rank of 1LT on December 15, 1945.

After the war, Joe graduated from the University of Detroit with a degree in mechanical engineering, and married Harriet Irene Embach in 1950. They would go on to have two daughters, Judy Ann and Sandra Lynn. About the same time as his marriage, he took a job with the City of Detroit. When Cobo Hall (now the TCF Center) was built in 1960, he became the building superintendent of this 2.4 million sq. ft. convention center.

In 1968, Joe and Harriet moved to Jackson, Michigan where he went to work for the Jackson Public Schools. He retired in 1979 as the supervisor of buses and maintenance.

Joe was also active in professional associations. He was a member of the Jackson Engineering Society of Detroit, the Professional Engineers Society, and the Detroit Building Superintendents Association where he served as treasurer in the mid-1960s. He was also active in Queen of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church in Jackson.

Joe died on December 6, 1983, in East Leroy, Michigan, and is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Battle Creek, Michigan.

*NOTE: Gray Marine was an important marine engine builder from 1901-1967. They made engines used to pump out trenches in World War I, and engines for the landing crafts known as "Higgins Boats" in World War II.


in army uniform

in army uniform with his sister, also in uniform (WAC)

photo of his Belgian grandmother, 1944


1940 census

1940 draft card

1950 marriage record

1960 article in Detroit Free Press re his job in Detroit

1965 article in Detroit Free Press re his membership in Detroit Bld. Superintendents' Association

1983 Find a Grave death record

1983 obituary from Battle Creek Enquirer

2005 wife obituary

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!