I saw this over on Trav’s site and had to post it here as well.
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”