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Mike Vinich died this week; Was a stalwart in Wyoming Democratic Politics & Hospitality

An Icon of Wyoming Democratic politics has died. Mike Vinich, who held court at the Union Bar and El Toro Supper Club in Hudson for over many decades, died Monday. Vinich is best known for several major events in his life. In World War II Vinich, a Marine, got to know a young PT Boat Commander at a patrol station in the South Pacific. He was Lt. John F. Kennedy who confided in Vinich that he had visited northwest Wyoming and found it beautiful. Just over a year later, on an island battle, Vinich and his Marine buddies were overwhelmed by a Japanese ground force and PT boats came to the rescue, taking the American soldiers off of the beach and to safety. As luck would have it, Vinich and another wounded Marine found themselves on PT 109, Kennedy’s boat. Vinich was later commanding a platoon of Marines when they stormed the beaches at Iwo Jima. He was shot in both legs and only six men in his platoon survived. He recalled recovering on a ship off of the island and seeing the flag raised on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, Running for president in 1960, Kennedy remembered Vinich and contacted him in Hudson asking for his support. A member of the Wyoming Democrats state delegation to the national convention, at Vinich’s urging, Wyoming put JFK over the top for the nomination with its 15 votes. Kennedy, and national Democrats, didn’t forget and Vinich’s back bar was crowded with signed photographs and memorabilia from political campaigns. State Democrats running for office always showed up in Hudson for Vinich’s blessing. Mike’s son, John, became a Wyoming State Legislator and his daughter, Michelle, served with U.S. Representative Teno Roncalio’s staff. Vinich, himself, tested the political waters but was defeated in a race for the U.S. Senate by then sitting Senator Clifford P. Hansen. While Vinich “retired” to his bar in Hudson, he remained active in politics. The El Toro was the meeting place for Fremont County’s Marine Corps League and the Red Marines Flag was a permanent fixture at the place. After both John and Michelle passed, Vinich closed the El Toro for meal service, but kept it open until the last several years for dancing on the weekends. Funeral arrangements have not yet been released. *Feature Photo:** M*ike Vinich blew out 22 candles on his "Leap Year" birthday cake--which was a large pan of delicious chocolate brownies at a meeting of Fremont County Democrats in 2011. Pitchengine Communities #county10 #news #obits