RIP Band of Brothers Richard Winters – a real hero

bandofbrothersMajor Richard Winters of Band of Brothers fame has passed away two weeks shy of his 93rd birthday (story here). Winters lead “Easy” Company (E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment) through its campaign from D-Day through the end of the war.

Dick Winters, the former World War II commander whose war story was told in the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died.

Dick Winters led a quiet life on his Fredericksburg farm and in his Hershey home until the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers” threw him into the international spotlight.

Since then, the former World War II commander of Easy Company had received hundreds of requests for interviews and appearances all over the world.

Winters was always gracious about his new-found celebrity, but never really comfortable with it. He never claimed to be a hero and said that he had nothing to do with the national effort to get him the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor.

When people asked him if he was a hero, he liked to answer the way his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney, did.

“No,” Ranney said. “But I served in a company of heroes.” That became the tag line for the miniseries.

When the war ended, Winters kept his promise to himself. He married Ethel, bought a bucolic farm in Fredericksburg, raised two children and worked in the agricultural feed business. He didn’t talk about the war until the late historian Stephen Ambrose wanted to put Easy Company’s exploits on paper.

Following the miniseries, Winters turned down most requests for interviews because he said he didn’t want to appear like he was bragging.

But he did feel the story of Easy Company was an important one, especially for young people. He was more likely to accept invitations by local school groups and spent time with students at Cedar Crest High School, among others. A talk he gave at Palmyra Middle School drew hundreds of spectators.

Ambrose, the author of “Band of Brothers,” said in a 2001 BBC interview that he hopes young people say. “I want to be like Dick Winters.”

“Not necessarily as soldiers, but as that kind of leader, that kind of man, with basic honesty and virtue and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong,” Ambrose said.

Winters was an exemplary soldier, an inspirational leader, a man of his word and someone who walked the walk – a true hero. Too bad there are so few like him. Currahee Dick…

winters

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