Dick Winters (1918 - 2011)

Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 by Travis Cody in
11

Richard D Winters, former Major in the US Army and commander of Easy Company, who's story was told in the HBO mini series Band of Brothers, has died.  He was 92.

As a young Lieutenant, Winters joined the 101st Airborne and went through training as executive officer of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  He assumed command of 1st Platoon when Easy's original commander was transferred to run a parachute school in England just prior to the D Day invasion in June 1944.

During the jump into France, Easy's new commander was lost and presumed killed when his plane was hit by enemy anti aircraft fire and exploded.  Lt Winters was the senior officer present for duty and so became acting CO.  On D Day, Lt Winters led a text book assault on a German heavy gun battery near Brecourt Manor, knocking out several 105mm howitzer cannon and killing or dispersing at least 50 enemy troops, with his small squad of 13.  That action earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, captain's bars, and definitive command of Easy Company.  The assault is still taught as a sand table exercises of a perfect infantry attack on an entrenched enemy position.


Captain Winters guided Easy Company through Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.  In January 1945, after the Battalion was relieved from the defense of Bastogne, Captain Winters was promoted to Major and and became acting 2nd Battalion commander.  He led the Battalion in capturing Berchtesgaden.  Major Winters and Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division were at Berchtesgaden when the order came to hold in place, and major fighting in World War II came to an end.


Major Winters ended the war as a highly decorated Battalion commander.  He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and Presidential Unit citation with Oak Leaf Cluster, all for valor in combat.  In addition, he was eligible to wear the "I was there" ribbons offered for service in the European Theater of Operations.


Major (retired) Winters worked extensively with the author Stephen Ambrose to tell the story of Easy Company in Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers:  Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest.  From that book came the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.  There have been several other books written about Major Winters.  He was also an active speaker and lecturer.


What I remember most about listening to Major Winters and reading about him is how he never put much emphasis on himself.  To me, he defined the adage of an ordinary man who performed extraordinary things.  He put the safety and welfare of the men who served under him first and foremost, and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.

Major Winters promised himself that when the war ended, he "would find a nice peaceful town and spend the rest of my life in peace."


Richard Winters was the big brother hero in a company of heroes.  I am most humbly grateful for his service, and wish him peace in his final rest.

Richard D Winters, Major US Army (retired)
21 January 1918 - 2 January 2011
"The Biggest Brother"

11 comments:

  1. He was a great man. We were saddened when we heard of his death. He leaves behind a legacy of honor.

  1. I believe one of the reasons they have been called the "Greatest Generation" is the humility that seemed to characterize them all. They did what they did, because it had to be done. To them, it was that simple.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    He put the safety and welfare of the men who served under him first and foremost, and would never ask them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.


    Now that is a TRUE leader.

  1. I heard that. Sorry to see it.

  1. Jeni says:

    Once again, Travis, you have posted information that should be of interest to anyone and everyone about a truly great man. I have not read the book but have watched the program "Band of Brothers" and always thought it was an excellent portrayal of war, the conditions the soldiers endure in the confrontations and such. He was really such a humble man though, even in his death when those who knew him had to dig around for information to confirm his death. Very good post.

  1. Fantastic post, Travis. I wholeheartedly agree with DrillerAA09 regarding that generation and their humility. Many people today could take a lesson.

  1. Rest in Peace,your time in hell is over.

  1. Jamie says:

    That was a beautiful tribute. The selfless dedication and commitment to a unified purpose is the classic description of the GI generation as described in the book Generations the history of america's future 1584 to 2069. If you haven't read it, do. They now have two more books "The Fourth Turning" and Millennials Rising" to take us into the modern era.

  1. A man to be honored for sure. I loved the show band of Brothers...

    Thanks for letting us know this sad news...well, 92 is a full life for anyone, but for someone like Mr. Winters it is amazing.

  1. Da Dude says:

    To live in hearts we leave behind
    Is not to die.
    ~Thomas Campbell, "Hallowed Ground"

    Rest in peace.

  1. Who couldn't fall for this character in the miniseries, and admire the real man in the documentary segments? I certainly adored both versions.

    I'm glad he made it to 92, and went on to enjoy life as many soldiers cannot - both the ones who perish in battle, and the ones who return home haunted by all they've seen and have been asked to do. He was amazing in wartime and in peace time.