Richmond Times Dispatch:

Richard “Dick” Winters, the Easy Company commander whose World War II exploits were made famous by the book and television miniseries “Band of Brothers,” died last week in central Pennsylvania. He was 92.

Winters was a humble man and very respected by the men under his command.  He asked that his death not be announced until after his funeral.  He lived in Hershey, PA. 

Remarkably, there are  enough of his men still alive to make public comment: 

The men Winters led expressed their admiration for their company commander after learning of his death.

William Guarnere, 88, said what he remembers about Winters was “great leadership.”

“When he said ‘Let’s go,’ he was right in the front,” Guarnere, who was called “Wild Bill” by his comrades, said Sunday night from his South Philadelphia home. “He was never in the back. A leader personified.”

Another member of the unit living in Philadelphia, Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Winters brought a tear to his eye.

“He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under,” said Heffron, who had the nickname “Babe” in the company. “He was a wonderful officer, a wonderful leader. He had what you needed, guts and brains. He took care of his men, that’s very important.”

Winters was born Jan. 21, 1918 and studied economics at Franklin & Marshall College before enlisting, according to a biography on the Penn State website.

Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.

During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. In September 1944, he led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers. Occupying the Bastogne area of Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his men held their place until the Third Army broke through enemy lines, and Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.

After returning home, Winters married his wife, Ethel, in May 1948, and trained infantry and Army Ranger units at Fort Dix during the Korean War. He started a company selling livestock feed to farmers, and he and his family eventually settled in a farmhouse in Hershey, Pa., where he retired.

Rest in peace, Retired Major Dick Winters.  We feel like we knew you and we thank you for your service.

When people asked whether he was a hero, he echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney: “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”

“He was a good man, a very good man,” Guarnere said. “I would follow him to hell and back. So would the men from E Company.”


7 Thoughts to “Dick Winters Dies: Band of Brothers Inspiration”

  1. There can be no doubt as to the heroism of the entire Band of Brothers but Major Dick Winters obviously stood head and shoulders above all. This Greatest Generation is slowly fading away and all will soon lie beneath the soil they fought so hard to defend. We will never fully know just what they gave us–we can only be thankful to them for all their sacrifices. Rest well Major Winters, fair wind and following seas.

  2. Thanks to George and Cargo for their contributions to this post. Dick Winters has always been one of my favorites, ever since Band of Brothers.

    George is correct. We will never fully know what they gave us. Most were humble and simply didn’t talk about it. When I was very little I got treated to ‘stories’ at bed time. There were stories from when my father was a boy and stories from the army. I can’t remember any other genres. Then life got more complicated, I got school age and the stories stopped. When he was older I begged for memoirs. He never did it. And those stories of his service went to the grave with him, I am sorry to say.

  3. marinm

    I don’t think they make ’em like this anymore. 🙁

  4. Here’s a link to a memorial fund for Mr. Winters:

    Marinm, Oh yes they do.

    Just scroll down:

    Here’s two:

    The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like:

    “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

    A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine f concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

    “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured.some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.” “What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal.” Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.” “No sane man.”

    “They saved us all.”

  5. Darn it! Forgot about the three link rule! Post is in moderation.

    First – Drink coffee. THEN blog.

  6. George S. Harris

    I agree with you Cargo–they still make ’em like that and those two are a good example. And SSGT Salvatore Giunta is our most recent example. They s till make ’em, they still enlist and they still fight and die for their nation but most of all they do it for their fellow soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guards men. God bless them all, everyone.

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