Monday, January 10, 2011

The Dead

Dick Winters who commanded the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, E Company, the military unit later commemorated as "Easy Company" in HBO's "Band of Brothers" died on January 2nd at age 92.

One of the soldiers who served in Easy Company, David Webster, once wrote that among his colleagues the Purple Heart "was not a decoration but a badge of office."

Mr. Winters, who separated from the Army at the rank of major, and his men fought together through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge and later occupied Adolf Hitler's mountainside retreat, the Eagle's Nest, near Berchtesgaden.

A charismatic officer who led by example, Mr. Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross, the country's second highest decoration for valor, while conducting combat operations on D-Day.
Mr. Winters led a small group of men on a raid of German cannon emplacements near Utah beach on Normandy's coastline.

While taking out the heavily fortified bunker, Mr. Winters and his men killed 15 German soldiers and took 12 more as prisoners, helping to save countless American lives from the withering cannon fire.

Later in the war, one of Mr. Winters's soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to the officer from a hospital in Indiana expressing gratitude for his loyalty and leadership.

"You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you," Talbert wrote to Mr. Winters in 1945. "I would follow you into hell."

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