Major Dick Winters passed away Jan. 2 in central Pennsylvania following a battle with Parkinson's Disease. If you've read Stephen Ambrose's book or watched the HBO miniseries, you'll likely already have mental pictures of Winters' acts of heroism during harsh fighting in Europe during the Second World War. This is what he looked like in 1945:
Courtesy of Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens, Ret. / AP file
Easy Company's William Guarnere, 88, told the AP today: "When he said 'Let's go,' he was right in the front [...] He was never in the back. A leader personified."
Winters told his own story in 'Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters,' and begins his first chapter by describing the "quiet peace" he says every soldier wants to find:
I am still haunted by the names and faces of young men, young airborne troopers who never had the opportunity to return home after the war and begin their lives anew. Like most veterans who have shared the hardship of combat, I live with flashbacks--distant memories of an attack on a battery of German artillery on D-Day, an assault on Carentan, a bayonet attack on a dike in Holland, the cold of Bastogne[...] If you had a man who was killed, you looked at him and hoped that he had found peace in death. I'm not sure whether they were fortunate or unfortunate to get out of the war so early. So many men died so that others could live. No one understands why.
To find a quiet peace is the dream of every soldier. For some it takes longer than others. In my own experience I have discovered that it is far easier to find quiet than to find peace. True peace must come from within oneself. As my wartime buddies join their fallen comrades at an alarming rate, distant memories resurface. The hard times fade and the flashbacks go back to friendly times, to buddies with whom I shared a unique bond, to men who are my brothers in every sense of the word. I live with these men every day.
To see and hear Winters describe the heroism of Easy Company in video, click here. To watch Winters describe Easy Company's Brecourt Manor assault on D-Day, click below: