Monday, January 10, 2011

Godspeed, Major Dick Winters

When people asked whether he was a hero, [Winters] echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney: "No, but I served in a company of heroes."

I love to read about fantasy heroes, but last week a real one (despite his self-effacing comment above) passed from the earth.

From USA Today: "Band of Brothers" inspiration Dick Winters dies at 92.

I can't recommend Stephen Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" highly enough, nor the HBO miniseries of the same name. A member of the 101st Airborne Division, Winters and his unit were in the first wave of soldiers into Normandy via parachute, bailing out of low-flying planes over occupied territory and through flak and small-arms fire. I can't even imagine what was going through their minds (it's one of the most harrowing and well-done scenes in the miniseries). "Thus did 13,400 of America's finest youth, who had been training for this moment for two years, hurl themselves against Hitler's Fortress Europe," wrote Ambrose.

They then fought their way across Europe through the Battle of the Bulge and the end of the war.

Winters was a leader in every sense of the word, a role model, a brave man, a tough SOB, and a member of a generation that saved the world from tyranny. May he rest in peace.


Narmer said...

Damn. This is the first I've heard of his passing. A brave man lost to the world.

ChicagoWiz said...

He earned his RIP. He's now back in the company of his fellow heroes, those from 1944/45 and later.

We've lost all our WW1 vets and now we're losing our WW2 vets. Sad. :(

Lagomorph Rex said...

After having waited what seems like an age to be able to see the Television program, I loved it from the very first opening. I went on to read the book by Ambrose (who I now treat with a good bit of suspicion) and books by a couple of the actual men the films were about.

I visited Toccoa Georgia not too long ago, they have a 101st Museum there. It isn't much but its got some neat artifacts. You can climb Currahee as well if you're interested. I didn't because it was raining.

To me they are, the people who have grown to be more than men doing what they had to do. They have become legendary figures, in an epic mythic conflict.

Anonymous said...

I can do naught more than echo your thoughts, Brian. Major Winters was a hero to the men that served with him and to all subsequent generations who enjoy the freedoms that he fought so bravely to preserve. May he rest peacefully.

Welleran said...

@Chicagowiz: Actually, the very last WW1 vet is still alive. His 110th birthday is in a few weeks.

ChicagoWiz said...

@Welleran - that's great news, interesting story. Thank you!

Brian Murphy said...

Lagomorph: That's pretty awesome, I'd love to visit that museum.

I'm in agreement about the WWII vets: I know they were just men like you and me, but they seem like larger than life heroes from myth, already. I went to a work-related conference a few years back in Washington D.C. not too long after the WWII monument opened and I took a walk over after the show let out. There was a bunch of old veterans there and I spent close to two hours walking around, shaking hands, and listening to their stories.

It won't be long now before they're all gone, sadly.