No announcement yet.

Richard Winters Dies at 92; Led ‘Band of Brothers’

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Richard Winters Dies at 92; Led ‘Band of Brothers’

    Richard Winters Dies at 92; Led ‘Band of Brothers’
    Published: January 10, 2011

    Richard Winters, the commanding officer of Easy Company, the Army unit whose gritty combat from the beaches of Normandy to the capture of Hitler’s mountain retreat was recounted in the book and television series “Band of Brothers,” died Jan. 2 in Campbelltown, Pa. He was 92 and lived in Hershey, Pa.

    His death was confirmed by Nikki Soliday, executive director of the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society, which maintains an exhibit of Mr. Winters’s war memorabilia, including the tiny silk map of Normandy sewn into his uniform pants on D-Day and silverware taken from Hitler’s retreat.

    Rising from lieutenant to major, Mr. Winters was commander of Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, from D-Day to V-E Day. Dropped behind enemy lines hours before Allied forces landed on Utah Beach at dawn on June 6, 1944, the unit went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, through German towns and villages and ended the war by joining in the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden, Germany, near the Austrian border.

    Lieutenant Winters became the unit’s commanding officer on D-Day, hours after his superior officer was killed. That day he led 13 of his men in taking out a battery of German gunners that was decimating Allied troops on Utah Beach.

    “He was the first one out there, yelling, ‘Follow me!’ ” one of his staff sergeants, William Guarnere, now 88, said Monday. “We knocked out a battery of four guns, 150 millimeters, that was firing on the kids coming on the shore. He got shot in the leg and still kept going.”

    “He saved the company a lot of times,” Mr. Guarnere added.

    In 1990, Mr. Winters was among D-Day veterans interviewed by the historian Stephen E. Ambrose for a book on the Normandy landings. He suggested that Mr. Ambrose focus on Easy Company, a task made simpler by the facts that its members had regularly held reunions and that many, including Mr. Winters, had kept written records of their war experiences.

    “Band of Brothers” — its title taken from an oration in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 — became a best seller in 1992. And in 2001 the 10-part miniseries of the same title, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, was shown on HBO.

    Among many other missions, the book and the miniseries tell how Captain Winters climbed to the top of a dike near the village of Zetten, the Netherlands, on Oct. 5, 1944, and spotted hundreds of German soldiers on the other side.

    Had the Germans crossed over the dike, they would have posed a serious threat to American forces.

    Although his platoon was vastly outnumbered, Captain Winters ordered his troops to open fire. “With 35 men, a platoon of Easy Company routed two German companies of about 300 men,” the book says. “American casualties were one dead, 22 wounded. German casualties were 50 killed, 11 captures, about 100 wounded.”

    In March 1945, Captain Winters, who had previously been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, was promoted to major. Two months later, the 101st Airborne Division received orders to capture Berchtesgaden. After setting out from Thalham, Germany, Major Winters’s unit forced its way through streams of surrendering German soldiers and reached Hitler’s retreat on May 5, 1945. Easy Company was there when the war ended three days later.

    Richard Winters was born in Ephrata, Pa., to Richard and Edith Winters on Jan. 21, 1918. Dick, as he preferred to be called, enlisted in the Army after graduating from Franklin and Marshall College in 1941.

    After the war, he became a supervisor at a plaster mill in New Jersey. In 1951, he and his wife, Esther, bought a small farm in Fredericksburg, Pa. He later began selling animal feed products to farmers throughout Pennsylvania. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son and a daughter.

    Mr. Winters received many other decorations besides the Distinguished Service Cross, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Yet he played down his combat role.

    “The cohesion that existed in the company was hardly the result of my leadership,” he wrote in “Beyond Band of Brothers,” his 2006 memoir. “The company belonged to the men, the officers were merely the caretakers.”
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  • #2
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3


    • #3
      A warrior for sure.............. RIP Maj (?) Winters............FEAR NAUGHT
      sigpicFEAR NAUGHT

      Should raw analytical data ever be passed to policy makers?


      • #4
        RIP, a great warrior.


        • #5
          Truly a great leader of men. As a line grunt I've been under good officers and bad officers, the really good ones are definitely rare specimens. They breed trust in their men, and their men will follow them to Hell and back.

          It's a crying shame that an officer that is so well chronicled should not get respect he was due by having even basic details fouled up. This journalist needs to be fired for laziness for not even reading up on him on Wikipedia before writing this up.

          Rising from lieutenant to major, Mr. Winters was commander of Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, from D-Day to V-E Day
          From Wikipedia

          ...on October 9, Winters became the battalion XO. Although this position was normally a major's billet, Winters filled it while still a captain. On March 8, 1945, following the 2nd Battalion's move to Haguenau, Winters was promoted to Major and shortly afterward he was made acting battalion commander of 2nd Battalion, when Lieutenant Colonel Strayer was elevated to the regimental staff.
          Last edited by bigross86; 11 Jan 11,, 16:06.
          Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

          Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.


          • #6
            Another small but vital connection to our past leaves us for a better place. God bless Maj. Winters. May he rest in peace. Present Arms!
            "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
            "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs


            • #7
              He was best known as the Easy Company Commander, and if you've read Stephen Ambrose, who was big on the citizen-soldier concept and the reason that Dick Winters became famous, it's actually appropriate to refer to him as Mr. Winters, or at least is not disrespectful in that context.
              "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3


              • #8
                I know he was best known as Easy Company CO, but he spent over half a year as Battalion XO. It might seem petty, but I feel that solely remembering him for something less than what he was is insulting. The article makes not one mention of him being Battalion XO
                Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

                Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.


                • #9
                  And not to be pendantic, he rose from Private to Major. He was a product of OCS which was a strength of the Army's citizen-soldier concept. A great leader.
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain


                  • #10

                    does west point still teach the Brecourt Manor Assault? the man was a hell of a tactician.
                    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov


                    • #11
                      He is reunited with Those who went before him. <salute> RIP sir.


                      • #12
                        RIP Maj Winters, What a meanful and important life you have had. <Attention> <Salute> <Tapps> We are all diminished by our loss. Heaven has been reinforced.
                        sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                        If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."


                        • #13
                          Cnn Obituary of Maj. Richard Winters

                          Washington (CNN) -- Richard "Dick" Winters, a decorated hero of World War II and the central figure in the book and miniseries "Band of Brothers," has died. He would have turned 93 years old in February.

                          Winters died January 2 and was buried after a private funeral Saturday, according to retired Army Col. Cole Kingseed, a close friend and co-author of Winters' memoirs.

                          Winters began his career in the Army shortly before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, and he volunteered to become a paratrooper, according to his wartime memoirs "Beyond Band of Brothers."

                          He was assigned to E Company, more commonly known as Easy Company, of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the Army's 101st Airborne Division.

                          After months of training in the new tactic of soldiers dropping by parachute behind enemy lines, Winters and the men of Easy Company parachuted into Normandy hours before the first troops hit Omaha and Utah beaches on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

                          When he landed he discovered he'd lost his "leg bag," the satchel carrying all his weapons, when he jumped out of the plane.

                          He was behind enemy lines on the most decisive day of World War II with nothing but a knife.

                          "I later discovered that in our small contingent from Easy Company, we all lost our leg bags and ended up using whatever weapons he could scrounge," Winters wrote in his memoirs. "This was a hell of a way to begin a war."

                          Still, within hours he organized a small group of troopers to attack a German artillery position. They took out nearly two dozen Nazi soldiers and four large cannons which had been firing on American troops landing on the beaches.

                          His actions that day earned Winters the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for valor in the U.S. military. There is still an effort underway to have that medal upgraded to a Medal of Honor, an action the humble Winters never supported.

                          Kingseed said Winters told him, referring to the men he commanded in Europe, that "war does not make men great, but sometimes, war brings out the greatness in men."

                          D-Day also cost Easy Company the life of its commander, which put then-Lt. Winters in command of the unit.

                          He later led his men through Operation Market Garden, a major allied offensive in Holland in September 1944.

                          In December of the year, Easy Company and the rest of the 101st were ordered to hold back a German offensive around the town of Bastogne in Belgium. Surrounded by Nazi troops and tanks and facing bitter cold with no winter clothing and limited food rations, Winters and the rest of the 101st held back the Germans and, along with other allied units, eventually repelled the enemy offensive.

                          After leading his men in battle all the way into Germany, Easy Company eventually was assigned to occupy the "Eagles Nest" -- Hitler's mountaintop retreat near the Austrian/German border.

                          A short time later, Winters left the Army with the rank of major and never saw combat again. He went on to become a successful businessman and a public speaker.

                          Kingseed, who considered Winters his best friend, said he "epitomized the citizen soldier" who won World War II.

                          Gen. David Petraeus, who has commanded the 101st Airborne Division during his career, said in a statement on Monday that "Major Winters embodied the very best of what a leader and soldier should be. He and the men of Easy Company lived the "brotherhood of the close fight."

                          "The deeds of Dick Winters and his men from Easy Company will always live on," Petraeus said.

                          Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood mogul who produced the "Band of Brothers" mini-series, issued a release Monday saying in part, "Dick Winters was at the vanguard of representing 'The Greatest Generation' in bringing honor to all his Band of Brothers." Spielberg said Winters "would not have wanted this credit. He would have simply asked all of us to never forget how his generation served this nation and the world in WWII."

                          Reaction also came from Tom Hanks, who co-produced the series, and from the actor who played Winters in "Band of Brothers."

                          "When our days run their course and a man like Dick Winters leaves us, time and providence remind us that human beings can do giant things," Hanks said in a statement. "Dick Winters volunteered to go to war, leading paratroopers into unknown, yet certain, dangers. He led by both command and example; his wartime philosophy was simple -- 'Follow me.'"

                          Actor Damian Lewis, who portrayed Winters in the series, told CNN that Winters' support for him during the production was "generous and unstinting. I'll never forget his rallying cry to me to 'hang tough!'

                          "He has died quietly, in private, without fanfare and with the same modesty that he lived his life as one of the true heroes of his generation," Lewis added.

                          Winters did not make any money off his memoirs or the speeches he gave later in his life. His royalties from the book went to a variety of organizations, including veterans groups, breast-cancer research organizations and the Ronald McDonald house in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he lived for years.

                          His family is planning a public memorial service for Winters in the near future.

                          In the meantime, his family is asking that in remembrance of Winters, donations can be sent to any veterans hospital.

                          Winters is survived by his wife, Ethel, and a son, a daughter and a grandson.
                          Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

                          Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.


                          • #14
                            What a brilliant field commander he was, and also a man of extraordinary character. R.I.P to Major Winters.



                            • #15
                              The List of WW2 Hero's is getting shorter. RIP Major

                              "Hang tough" ... Salute