Major Richard (Dick) Winters passed away 02JAN2011 aged 92 years.
He was a paratrooper and an officer during World War II with the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Most notably as a platoon commander within and then company commander of Easy Company who were the subject of the bestselling book written by historian Stephen E. Ambrose and published in the early 1990s. The book was then adapted into a television miniseries, it was called Band of Brothers.
Easy Company exploits as a result are well known including those of Winters himself who was often noted as a commander who led from the front. On D-Day he landed in France without a weapon or equipment “Not a good way to start begin a war.” he later recalled. Later that day he led twelve men in a successful attack of a German gun battery consisting of roughly 50 enemy and four 105mm Howitzers. The Howitzers were firing onto a causeway exit at Utah Beach where US troops had landed. The successful attack saved countless Allied lives. It’s still taught at West Point as a textbook assault on a fixed position. His war was just beginning, he later served in Operation Market Garden and was Battalion XO when the 101 famously held the line at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Sgt. Floyd Talbert, one of the many men under his command wrote to him a the end of the war “I would follow you into hell. When I was with you I knew everything was absolutely under control.” On the evening of 06JUN1944 Lt Winters lay down to sleep and made a promise to himself: if he lived through the war, he was going to find an isolated farm somewhere and spend the remainder of his life in peace and quiet. He did. Happily married for 52 years he leave behind his wife Ethel Estoppey and two children.
Talbert once wrote to him later in life “Do you remember the time you were leading us into Carentan? Seeing you in the middle of that road wanting to move was too much!…Dick this can go on and on. I have never discussed these things with anyone on this earth. The things we had are damn near sacred to me.” Talbert was and is right. Some things are sacred.
Some people too.