IN HONOR OF
MAJOR RICHARD D. WINTERS
1918 - 2011
"If you can, find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know that you are honest and you are fair and will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down."
~ Major Richard D. Winters, 2004*
Richard D. Winters was born January 21, 1918, and lived most of his youth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He attended Franklin & Marshall College, and he enlisted in the US Army in 1941 shortly after graduation.
Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, on D-Day (June 6, 1944) after the presumed (and later confirmed) death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy. During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. The base-of-fire technique he deployed in the attack on D-Day is still taught today at West Point as a textbook case for an assault on a fixed position. For his accomplishments on D-Day, Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross, the country's second highest decoration for valor.
Subsequently, Winters led his company through events such as the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of a death camp at Dachau and the acquisition of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. The experiences of Easy Company during World War II are depicted in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band Of Brothers, featuring Damian Lewis in the role of Winters.
Following the war, Winters fulfilled a pledge he had made to himself in the midst of the D-Day chaos: If he survived the war, he would find a nice, quiet place and live in peace. After returning home, Winters married his wife, Ethel, bought a farmhouse in Hershey where he and Ethel raised their two children, and he worked in the agricultural feed business.
Major Richard D. Winters passed away on January 2, 2011, in Pennsylania, at age 92.
Over the years, whenever people would ask if he was a hero in the War, he would echo the words of his friend and fellow Easy Company veteran Mike Ranney: "No, but I served in a company of heroes."
*From American History Magazine, August 2004.
"And as I set in my trailer on another film set writing this now, the big band sound of 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' swingin' in the background on my stereo, I'm reminded of what Dick used to say to me during filming, 'Just hang tough!' but always with a twinkle in his eye. ..."
~ Damian Lewis, September 22, 2004**
"It's a sad day today. Major Richard Winters, without question one of the great heroes of World War 2, has died. His story, and those of the men of Easy Company came to prominence through the extraordinary HBO series, Band Of Brothers. I was honoured to have played, no, represent him on the screen. He was unstinting in his support of the project and of me. He welcomed me to his house in Hershey, introduced me to his loving wife, Ethel, and constantly exhorted me to "Hang Tough!" He has died quietly, in private, without fanfare, with the same modesty that he lived his life as one of the most celebrated soldiers of his generation. I will miss him, and I thank him. Currahee! (We Stand Alone Together)"
~ Damian Lewis, January 2011
**From the preface, written by Damian Lewis, to Larry Alexander's biography of Major Winters entitled "Biggest Brother".
Support the Richard Winters Leadership Project
The Richard Winters Leadership Project is a special two-component project to honor Richard Winters and all of the U.S. military leadership exemplified during D-Day and the Normandy invasion of World War II.
The first component of the Richard Winters Leadership Project is the creation of a statue in the likeness of (then) First Lieutenant Richard Winters placed in Sainte Marie-du-Mont, Normandy, and dedicated in recognition of First Lieutenant Richard Winters and the leadership abilities of all US Army officers of all divisions and corps during the Normandy phase of Operation Overlord during World War II.
The second component of the Richard Winters Leadership Project is a documentary film entitled Dick Winters: Hang Tough, that focuses on Major Winters's leadership abilities in Europe in World War II, his ability to motivate, inspire and lead men when initial planning had broken down, and principles that are still important today to those who lead and set the stage for others to succeed. Interviews with Major Winters and other E Company men are featured. Damian Lewis narrates this documentary.
The statue dedication took place on June 6, 2012, the anniversary of D-Day. The documentary was released on DVD in November 2012. One thousand DVDs of the film have been donated to school systems throughout Pennsylvania free of charge on behalf of Major Richard Winters and Mrs. Ethel Winters.
To purchase the Dick Winters: Hang Tough DVD, visit this page of the WWII Foundation site. Proceeds from the sale of this DVD support the WWII Foundation. (Note: This DVD is not coded for a specific region. However, it is in the NTSC video format (a format primarily used in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, parts of Central and South America). If you only have a DVD-playing device and television/monitor with access to the PAL or SECAM video formats and not NTSC, you will not be able to view this DVD. If you do have a DVD-playing device and television/monitor with access to the NTSC video format, you should be able to view this DVD regardless of geographic region.)
Various fundraising campaigns were established to bring the Richard Winters Leadership Project to fruition, with several of them remaining active to raise funds for the WWII Foundation's other projects. These fundraising efforts have included:
You may read more about the project on the Richard Winters Leadership Project page at the WWII Foundation site.
Thank you for your support.
The Medal of Honor quest continues ...
The bill: "To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Richard D. Winters, of Hershey, Pennsylvania, for acts of valor on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, while an officer in the 101st Airborne Division."
Over the past several years, the above bill has been introduced in the Armed Services Committee in the US House of Representatives in previous sessions of Congress, but it has not yet been passed into law.
Sessions of Congress last two years, and at the end of each session all proposed bills and resolutions that haven't passed are cleared from the books. Members often reintroduce previously unpassed bills, which are assigned new bill numbers, in subsequent sessions of Congress.
(Previous bill numbers for this bill have included H.R. 2790 for the 2005-06 Session, H.R. 796 for the 2007-08 Session, and H.R. 3121 for the 2009-10 Session. These previous bill numbers are now obsolete, so do not use those bill numbers for reference.)
You may keep track of Congressional activity on the bill with this designated Google search. You also may read about the bill and monitor its progress at GovTrack by searching by bill number (when one is assigned) or by keywords (such as "richard d. winters").
Please show your support in the global quest for the Medal of Honor be awarded, now posthumously, to Major Winters:
Thank you for your help and support.
*Signature number 7400 has been verified as authentically that of Damian Lewis.
See, hear and read more ...
Visit these links for articles, information, multimedia clips and more about Major Richard D. Winters, Easy Company, the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment and the 101st Airborne Division:
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