PSRD Breach. Yadda yadda.
On January 2nd, Major Richard “Dick” Winters passed away at the age of 93.
If you’ve read the book Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose or seen the associated (excellent) HBO-produced miniseries, then you know exactly who this man was. He was the leader of Easy Company, whose exploits in World War II are now legendary. After getting his men through training from a near-psychotic drill sergeant, Winters went on to personally lead Easy Company through their paradrop on D-Day, their advance through France, the spectacular failure of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. He led from the front until his superiors ordered him to the rear, considering him too valuable to place on the front lines. He led them as they entered Germany, found Nazi concentration camps and finally stormed the (then empty) Eagle’s Nest.
Once the European campaign was over, he even volunteered to fight in the Pacific, believing that doing so would end the war faster and thus get his boys home quicker. His request was denied; his superiors telling him that he had done enough.
But the end of World War II wasn’t the end of his military career. He was called back into service during the Korean War. He was assigned to train new officers, but this was a different army than the one he encountered in World War II – he found the officers undisciplined, sometimes even failing to show up for his classes. Finally, on the verge of his deployment to Korea, he was allowed to resign.
This post actually has a video game angle. Seriously, it does. For the most famous statement Winters made after the war was, “I was not a hero. But I served in the company of heroes.”
Rest in peace, Major Winters. And I hope one day that someone like Mr. Ambrose (who is sadly deceased) will chronicle the heroism of the soldiers who currently fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.