January 11, 2011, - 2:08 pm

Dick Winters, RIP: D-Day Paratrooper From “Band of Brothers”

By Debbie Schlussel

This week, we learned of the death of Dick Winters, the leader of the “Band of Brothers,” the World War II paratroopers who were made famous in Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” and the HBO series of the same name.  Winters was a patriot and an American hero, whose contribution we must never forget.

Sadly, as I’ve noted before, with so many veterans of World War II dying, future generations will quickly forget.  As we all know, the attitude is:  if Kim Kardashian or Lady Gaga or some other future and even more dumbed-down version of Americana isn’t involved, who knows and who cares?  I’d bet that the majority of Americans couldn’t even accurately tell you who the Band of Brothers were–what they did and why they were so important.

But Winters and his men were very important because, on June 6, 1944, they parachuted, led by Winters, into Normandy’s Ste. Marie-du-Mont, right behind the German lines.  After their landing, they cleared the inland routes, which enabled American infantry and armor to to land on Utah Beach.  It was a brilliant, and fortunately, successful strategy.

More:

The drop was chaotic, and Mr. Winters lost his weapons and was at first isolated from his men. After reconnoitering amid an already-roaring battle, he managed to gather up a handful of men and found a gun. He then led his men in an assault on German trenches that ended with the destruction of four 105-mm howitzers and a 50-man platoon defending them.

Mr. Winters later called the action “my apogee” and received the Distinguished Service Cross.

“It surely saved a lot of lives, and made it much easier for—perhaps even made it possible in the first instance—for tanks to come inland from the beach,” Mr. Ambrose wrote of the engagement.

Easy Company’s commander was killed in a plane crash during the initial phases of the assault, and command devolved to Mr. Winters. He led his men through a month of heavy fighting in Normandy, suffering near 50% casualties. After a short layover in England, Mr. Winters went on to lead Easy Company through battles in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

As the war ended, the recently promoted Maj. Winters led his company into Berchtesgaden, the village where Hitler had his Alpine retreat, the Berghof. Mr. Winters wrote in a memoir, “Beyond the Band of Brothers,” of overseeing the looting of Hermann Goering’s vast wine cellar, and of discovering Hitler’s private photo albums.

After the war, Mr. Winters worked at a fertilizer plant in New Jersey owned by the family of an Easy Company veteran, Louis Nixon. Mr. Winters returned to service as an Army trainer during the Korean War, then retired. He went into the animal feed business and bought a farm near Lancaster. He stayed in touch with his Army comrades, but otherwise rarely spoke of his wartime experiences. He was unknown to the public before Mr. Ambrose’s book became a bestseller.

“I would follow him to hell and back,” William Guarnere, who lost a leg serving under Mr. Winters in the Battle of the Bulge, told the Associated Press Sunday. “So would the men from E Company.”

What a terrific guy. And a great loss to America and the Western world.

Dick Winters, Rest In Peace.

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12 Responses

Great post Debbie, thank god your pro-US military and remember those who fought and died for this great republic of ours.

Now if Sean “Wallbanger” Hannity come forward and admit that he’s been running a scam for years with his “Freedom Concert” slush-fund scam. I hope everybody, regardless of their political leanings investigate that he’s running a fraud with his concerts and NOT sending the money to families of dead troops or families of injured troops.

“A nation is identified by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on January 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Dick Winters was truly a great American hero. He fought for his country with great bravery and courage. After the war he returned home and humbly became an ordinary American. He never self promoted or tried to capitalize on his war record or career. Dick and men like him are what made America the great country that it is. May he rest in peace and continue to inspire quiet heros everywhere.

KayserSozay on January 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

You’re right about future generations forgetting about World War II. We certainly can’t depend on the leftist teacher’s union dominated education system to help. On a positive note, I received the Blue Ray DVD set of Band of Brothers as a Christmas gift from a 22 year old relative, who has self educated himself about these heroes and the significance of World War II. RIP Dick Winters

Bonzer Wolf on January 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

They are what God sought to create: REAL MEN.

RIP

As goes Israel, so goes the World... on January 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Sad news… the Great Generation’s greatest hero passed on. We owe him our lives and our freedom. Dick Winters was an extraordinary, courageous, selfless and persevering guy. There’s no one like him today and America lost a true national treasure. He deserves our everlasting gratitude.

Dick Winters, RIP.

NormanF on January 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

WOW – didn’t know this, thanks – Tom Brokaw’s term “The Greatest Generation” couldn’t have been more aptly named

pitman on January 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Miss Schlussel, Et Alii:

I saw the news a couple of days ago, but decided not to post it on my own web site, because everybody else was already posting it, and doing a much better job than I could.

Yes, we lost a great national hero, whose personal life epitomized the very best qualities of citizenship, industry, family, quiet humility, and the traditional values of American manhood.

I am proud to have served in the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” when I was in Viet Nam.

My father went ashore at Normandy several days after D-Day.

After the Second World War, my father served in the 101st Airborne Division at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky, and then went to fight in Korea.

Here on the wall of my room at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Mississippi, is a framed large 101st Airborne insignia that belonged to Roy Pickles.

He was one of the original “Band of Brothers”, and his ashes are currently inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.

While he was still alive, I got his autograph in my 101st Airborne history book, along with a photograph of him when he was a young paratrooper at Fort Benning.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot – – – I’m also mentioned in the back pages of that same history book, “101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION ‘SCREAMING EAGLES'”, though only briefly.

It was put out by Turner Publishing of Paducah, Kentucky, but is now out of print.

Mox nix.

I never thought I’d ever grow up to be in any history book, no matter how obscure!

Actually, I’m also in another obscure history book, “SAINTS AT WAR: KOREA AND VIETNAM”, which is a history of members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints (i.e., the “Mormon” church) who served during those wars.

I’m not certain, but that book may also be out of print.

One of the Latter-day Saints who went ashore on D-Day, Sergeant Hugh Nibley, wrote that the reason so many gliders crashed was because military aircraft mechanics in England, jealous at being left behind, had gotten drunk and deliberately omitted installing numerous essential screws or parts.

Thus, some of the gliders actually came apart in the air, over the English Channel.

Now deceased, he was a world renowned professor of Egyptology and ancient civilizations at Brigham Young University, and his memoirs and observations are recorded in the book, “SERGEANT NIBLEY, PH.D. – – – MEMORIES OF AN UNLIKELY SCREAMING EAGLE”.

He also wrote of the traumatic psychological effect incurred when American soldiers were forced to kill their enemy in combat, something which drove some of them, even senior career officers, to suicide.

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

John Robert Mallernee on January 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I think of Dick Winters in the same way that I think of Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine in the Civil War. Citizen soldiers, bright leaders who led by example and smarts. Although Chamberlain went on the public fame as university president and governor of Maine, but he and Winters were educated men, not destined for warfare, who studied tactics, literally led their men, and used their brains on the battlefield to great success. We need more and more of them with each passing year.

gmartinz on January 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm

…….Sad time lamentin’
All the flowers of the forest
Have all gone away…..

Tanstaafl on January 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

“Remember the heros, who fought for the right to choose”….Sammy Hagar, 1985 Heros like Mr. Winters.

Truth on April 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Major Winters,

Mere words cannot convey my gratitude to you, the men of Easy Company and all of the veterans that served in WW2. Truly, it is men like you, and the ones that were under your command, is what formed the United States into why it is such a great nation. No question, you are the greatest generation that has ever lived.

Love and respect,

AR on May 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

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