Any WWII Vets, Students, Devotees -- Was anyone aware of the recent passing of Major Richard D. Winters?
Major Dick Winters, "Easy" Company Commander, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
The reluctant hero was brought to attention by the television series and book by historian and biographer Stephen Ambrose, "Band of Brothers".
Major WInters passed away on January 2, 2011, at the age of 92.
A very private and modest man, he died last week but requested that the news be withheld until after the funeral, so very typical of the solider that he was.
He led the takeover of a German artillery bunker on Utah Beach, saving countless lives.
Led his company through the Battle of the Bulge.
Liberated the German concentration camp at Dachau.
Occupied Hitler's mountainside retreat, Eagle's Nest.
In 1945, one of Winters' soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to Winters from his hospital bed to express appreciation for his leadership in battle.
"You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you," Talbert wrote. "I would follow you into hell."
And indeed, they most certainly did.
Winters had refused countless interviews and other requests over the years but finally honored Ambrose's request because he felt it important for future generations to learn about the war, its consequences and the sacrifices made by soldiers.
NBC newsman Tom Brokaw -- who detailed the lives of Winters and others like him in his "Greatest Generation" series of books -- "Dick Winters was the quintessential American infantry officer -- brave, canny and modest," Brokaw said. "His heroic leadership of the Band of Brothers is a one-man course on how to become a warrior without losing your humanity."
Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, and a Presidential Unit Citation w/ OLC.
"Rendezvous With Destiny," Brother Winters, your service precedes you.
Actually Dick Winters was a farm boy who quietly returned to his farm in his small town in Pennsylvania after the war - never, ever speaking of the war. There are NO books or TV shows on him - he refused every single one until the "Band of Brothers"book. He refused all requests afterward. Even when he knew he was dieing, he made sure he was long buried before a release was made of his death.
I do not see how we of the 101st Airborne Division are considered "fortunate" - I assure you, we sure as hell never thought so. The 101st is known for the risks they took and the sacrifices they made, over and over again - and are still making.
You see, I know the names, names you have never heard. I've buried more soldiers of the 101st in my own unit than total soldiers you've ever known. If you would like to know the names of those who "died in obscurity" I will be happy to provide you my list.
SSG Retired Eddiey Monaghan
101st Airborne Division
"Rendezvous With Destiny,"
- GerryLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
I do not write as thorough as you any more than I have read more than you. Some how I think I have read some of the same books you have along the way - this is important for the literary connection or so I think. What the hell do I know - I was and am still in many ways a Marine who still has trouble walking away from the feeling of being on a field of battle - though my war was not WW II.
I read the article this morning and as I read that he had been buried following his death on 2 Januray, 2011 I realized he kept to the word of the promise he meant following his life of chaotic war. Major Winters was not a man I knew personally; though I "knew" his leadership style. Leadership that doesn't come from a training manual, not a course you pay for on a college campus, and certainly not one that can be developed and then transcended through other forms of words. His actions spoke equal too or greater than his words.
He later Commanded a Battalion as a Captain and earlier kept a Company in order while serving as the second in command as a very young 2nd Lieutenant. He would later command that Company after one 1st Lieutenant Meehan was killed prior to reaching his drop zone just after midnight on 6 June 1944 (though it would be several days before he found out that Meehan was KIA - Captain Sobel was nowhere then at that time. Sobel was or may have been an effective training officer but couldn't command his way out of a paper bag). So easy for us to have watched the series and be amazed at the chaotic theatrics on the big screen now. Eddiey, battlefields are very fluid and chaotic - Spielberg/Hanks took the Ambrose work and made it all look like violin concerto - I imagine the smells that horrific day of 6 June '44 were another experience away from being shot at by Corporal Hitler's Nazi's.
Dick Winters paid his way through college with odd jobs (including trashman) and joined the U.S. Army as an enlistedman (later garnering a Commission through Officer Candidate School when the leaders he was near realized the rough diamond in their midst). Following the war he had a tough go of it - landed some jobs - lost others to include walking away from the opportunity he gained with one Captain "Nix" Nixon (though we all know he landed on the farm - he really just didn't "land" there as though dropping out of a C-47 as he did on 6 June '44). The farm sort of represents his end goal - the result of sleepless nights, missed meals, missed showers, lost opportunities with women, and even less drinks filled with alcohol (though "Nix" didn't seem to have a problem with private stashes of "Vat 69").
So, here we are - the "Greatest Generation" are nearly gone and so too their group that stayed on and went to Korea (some stayed and face it some went to Korea because they were too young for PTO or ETO in WW II). I wonder who is going to straighten this mess that developed afterwards ~ it wasn't supposed to happen this way.
Rest in Peace Major Dick Winters - you've earned it! Thank you for your service and selfless sacrifice. We owe YOU and YOUR generation BETTER than what we are doing with the opportunity you provided for us.
Semper Fidelis (is my salute to Major Winters ~ I can hear taps playing now)
- jan51601Lv 71 decade ago
I had watched--and taped--the miniseries, "Band of Brothers" when it was on TV, but am sorry to say I had not heard of the passing of Major Winters. His service will never be forgotten.
In the miniseries, British actor DAMIAN LEWIS portrayed him in these episodes:
1. Currahee (9 September 2001)
2.Day of Days (9 September 2001)
3.Carentan (16 September 2001)
4.Replacements (23 September 2001)
5.Crossroads (30 September 2001)
6. Bastogne (7 October 2001)
7. The Breaking Point (14 October 2001)
8. The Last Patrol (21 October 2001)
9. Why We Fight (28 October 2001)
10. Points (4 November 2001)
- llordlloydLv 61 decade ago
I'm sure many people are aware of it, this is the third time today I've seen a link to the story.
Winters was fortunate to have held a command role in one of the most famous US army divisions, one whose war featured intense combat in well-known battles. Books and TV shows were made about him, and thousands of books feature the 101st Airborne Division.
Let us use this occasion to also think about the thousands of World War II who die in in obscurity, even though they took grave risks. We must preserve the memory of what they did and went through, and not allow cultural obsession with sport, celebrity and stupidity to distract us from what's important.
Rest in Peace Major Winters.
- SpellboundLv 71 decade ago
Very sorry to hear that - by all accounts a true gentleman, a genuine hero and role model for all.
My thoughts are with his family and those who knew him.
We should all be inspired by him and the heroes of his generation.
Major R WInters RIP
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- Anonymous5 years ago
He is still alive and well and living in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He was born on 21st January 1918 (age 91).
- Nancy DLv 71 decade ago
OMG!! Didn't know this! Band of Brothers is my favorite favorite movie and have read the book and their history many many times. What a great leader and we were blessed to have him with us on this earth.
- clayjar_aznLv 71 decade ago
Yes I read about it. So sad, but he lived a full life with many blessings. Surviving members of Easy Company were praising him.