Richard “Dick” Winters, the Second World War US officer made famous by the Band of Brothers TV series, has died aged 92 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
An intensely private and humble man, Major Winters died last week but had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral in Pennsylvania.
The men he led expressed their admiration for their company commander after learning of his death.
William Guarnere, 88, said what he remembers about Maj. Winters was “great leadership”.
“When he said: 'Let’s go', he was right in the front,” Mr Guarnere, who was called “Wild Bill” by his comrades, said. “He was never in the back. A leader personified.”
Another member of the unit Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Maj. Winters brought a tear to his eye.
“He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under,” said Mr 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.”
Maj. Winters was born January 21, 1918 and studied economics at college before enlisting.
He 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, Maj. Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defences 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 Maj. Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.
After returning home, Maj. 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, where he retired.
Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Maj. Winters for the 1992 book “Band of Brothers”, upon which the HBO series that went out in September 2001 was based. He was played in it by British actor Damian Lewis.
Maj Winters published his own memoir in 2006 entitled “Beyond Band of Brothers”.