He was made famous by the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg mini-series, Band of Brothers, an interpretation of the book of the same name by Anthony Ambrose. To an army of soldiers and their families, he was famous long long ago.
Today, that unit of the 506th PIR mourns the death of one of the greatest military men of the modern age. Dick Winters, Major Dick Winters, passed away last week at the age of 92. Winters’ family asked for the news not be reported until after the funeral to escape the onslaught of press that would have followed.
Band of Brothers brought new light on an aging generation. Our grandfathers and our fathers who fought in WWII are fading away and rejoining their brethren on the other side.
In some way, BOB was not about one unit any more than it was about every unit. Every man who fought, died, survived, and told their stories. To some of us, like myself, it was an opportunity to understand what my grandfather suffered through during his time serving this nation in WWII.
His silence upon his return echoes throughout our family. A picture of an Italian street cafe hung in his house, gone were the faces that were painted in the scene, replaced by cutout pictures of his own family. No reason to know why. He simply never talked about the “War”.
When BOB aired, it gave generations of Americans an opportunity to listen to other WWII veterans tell of their experiences, good and bad. It was realized then that the family over there was as tight and as important as the one they had over here. Major Winters served his country in WWII and again in Korea. Then years after his retirement and his life had taken on other endeavors, he along with the rest of the Easy Company men, gave more of themselves in the retelling of those years in Europe.
In the process, they gave all Americans an opportunity to understand not just what the veterans of WWII went through, but alos WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and yes, even Iraq.
Major Winters was known by few words as he let his men stand up as heros, his actions on the battlefield are still taught today at West Point military academy. He does not simply leave behind a wife, children, and grandchildren, if you ask the surviving men who fought with him and for him, they will tell you that he is survived by them and their families as well. Countless veterans under his command still to this day believe that he was the reason they made it out of the war alive.
May you rest in peace Major Winters. Thank you for everything you did for this nation. Today, when you see a veteran or a soldier walking by you, take a moment to realize that regardless of how you feel about our nations politics, they serve and fight with no preconceived notions of right or wrong. They do so with the utmost belief that they are serving to protect our soverignty. And to that we should all, always, be grateful.