Obituary: Richard 'Dick' Winters, courageous WWII officer portrayed in 'Band of Brothers'

FILE - In this Dec. 1945 file photo provided by Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens, Ret., Maj. Richard
FILE - In this Dec. 1945 file photo provided by Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens, Ret., Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters. Winters, the man whose quiet leadership was chronicled in the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died Jan. 2, 2011 in central Pennsylvania, a family friend confirmed Monday, Jan. 10, 2011. He was 92. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens, Ret.) NO SALES (Anonymous - AP)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 10, 2011; 8:20 PM

Richard "Dick" Winters, 92, a decorated Army officer whose courageous leadership through some of the fiercest combat of World War II was featured in the best-selling book and HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," died Jan. 2. He had Parkinson's disease.

The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania reported that Maj. Winters, a longtime Hershey resident, died at an assisted-living facility in nearby Campbelltown.

Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book "Band of Brothers" followed the men of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The group came to be known as Easy Company.

One of Easy Company's officers was Maj. Winters, a charismatic and compassionate leader who entered Army service as a private and returned home after World War II as a major.

He and his men jumped into combat on June 6, 1944, above Normandy and later fought together through Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge.

The unit experienced heavy turnover because of battlefield casualties. One Easy Company soldier later wrote that among his colleagues, the Purple Heart "was not a decoration but a badge of office."

Maj. Winters graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1941 before enlisting in the Army. He was selected to attend officer candidates' school, earned a commission in the summer of 1942 and then - drawn by the promise of extra pay for hazardous duty - volunteered to join a newly formed paratrooper unit.

Of about 500 officers who volunteered to join the elite unit, only 148 made the cut.

Maj. Winters excelled as a infantry leader and a paratrooper and became a hallowed figure among his men for his "follow me" attitude.

He received the military's second-highest decoration for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions on D-Day.

That morning, after landing and untangling from his parachute, Maj. Winters gathered a small group of men for a raid on German cannon emplacements near Brecourt Manor.

Guarded by a platoon of 50 German sentries, the heavily fortified battery had been firing on Utah Beach, causing significant casualties and slowing the Allied advance.

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