|Major Richard Winters|
|Status||Deceased as of 2011 from Parkinsons Disease|
Richard Winters was born on January 21, 1918, in Dallas, Texas to Becky and Anita Bath Winters. His family moved to Ephrata when he was 8, and later to Lancaster. He had a younger sister named Ann. He graduated from Lancaster Boys' High School in 1937, and from Franklin & Marshall College in June 1941.
He earned money by cutting grass, and later by working at a grocery store, and finally as a painter of high tension towers for Edison Electric Company. He volunteered for the Army on August 25, 1941, because at that time you could serve in the army for one year and be out, and to avoid being drafted in the beginning of a promising career. He went through training at Camp Croft, South Carolina as a Private. However, after the United States entered the war because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, no further discharges were permitted and Winters was forced to remain in the army.
He continued training with the Army. Winters' platoon leader was from ROTC and did not know his job. For instance, the platoon leader talked to his platoon for an hour about the M1 Garand Rifle while holding a Springfield 1903 in his hands. After that experience, Winters chose to attend Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was there he met his friend Lewis Nixon.
After graduating on June 2, 1942, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was impressed by the Paratroopers and chose to enlist in the Airborne at that time, and was sent to train at Camp Toccoa, Georgia.He was assigned to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to second Platoon as a platoon leader. It was there he met the overly strict Captain Herbert Sobel, who commanded the Company.
Winters and his men would run up and down Currahee mountain and were driven by Sobel to perform additional calisthenics beyond what other parachute companies were required.
One night, when Winters was accompanying Easy Company up Currahee for a hike, Private Randleman complained that Sobel hated the company. Winters replied in a joking manner, "He doesn't hate Easy Company. He just hates you."
In the morning, he told his friend Lt. Nixon that he was ordered by Sobel to arbitrarily select several privates to receive latrine duty as punishment for infractions, to which Lewis replied he had a headmaster like Sobel. Winters was promoted to First Lieutenant by the now Captain Sobel and became the executive officer of Easy Company, replacing 1st Lt. Clarence Hester, who had been moved to Battalion.
Sobel gave Winters mess duty and asks him to make spaghetti as a reward for the men as it is a rainy day and they will not be doing their run, but he then interrupts the end of the meal by ordering the Company to go on a run in the rain. Many of the company members lose their lunch as they are running.
At Fort Benning, Winters qualified as a paratrooper and went with the Company to Camp Mackall, and later Camp Shanks in 1943.
Easy Company headed to Aldbourne, England to await orders and go through more training. While there, Sobel leads the second platoon in a race to a certain checkpoint, while Winters leads first Platoon. Sobel and his platoon became lost and are blocked by a fence, and Sobel is tricked into cutting it by George Luz was imitating Major Horton.
Winters reaches the checkpoint first, and his platoon come across an elderly man on a bike who puts his hands up in mock surrender saying, "You Yanks have done it. You've captured me." Sobel and his platoon appear down the road, running towards the checkpoint, and the elderly man inquires, "Is that the enemy?" Winters says, "As a matter of fact, yes."
Later, Winters is punished by Sobel for not following an order, but requests court martial, which is not what Sobel wants. Ultimately, Sobel is relieved of the command of Easy Company, and upon leaving, Winters salutes him, which was not met. While preparing for the drop in Normandy, Winters meets 2nd Lieutenant Buck Compton and reprimands him for gambling with the enlisted men. Before the invasion, Nixon and Winters share a small memory of Sobel when he was in command (shown in the beginning of Episode 1). Finally, Easy Company sets out for the drop into Normandy.
Winters is sitting huddled in the C-47 carrying him and some members of Easy Company. When they reach France, explosions erupt around the planes, as the Germans fire anti-aircraft shells at them. Winters witnesses a plane split in half from one of the shells. Another shell explodes near one of Winter's men, tearing open the window. Fortunately, the man is unscathed.
Before they reach their position, a nearby shell kills the co-pilot, and the other one in panic immediately gives the green light indicating they should jump. Winters makes the jump, but his leg bag containing his weapons is torn from him as he exits the airplane, leaving him only his knife. Winters lands safely, but not at his objective. None of his men are nearby. He meets a young man named Hall, who is separated from Able Company. Hall tags along with Winters.
Winters later regroups with half a platoon sized section of his men. Along their way to the checkpoint, they come across a German patrol. Winters and the half-platoon lie concealed and Winters tell them to wait for his command to fire. But before he gives the order, Guarnere begins to fire his submachine gun, slaughtering some of the Germans. Winters, with his position exposed, orders the rest of men to attack.
They kill the Germans on a wagon driven by horses with a grenade, while two other wagons escape. Guarnere continues to fire his gun, killing one horse, and injuring the other horse, and he doesn't hesitate to kill the last soldier.An annoyed Winters chews Guarnere out, telling him to wait for his command. Joseph Toye puts the injured horse out of its misery with his pistol.. After encountering the aftermath of a firefight, Winters is given a German weapon, and the group proceeds to their checkpoint.
They link up with the rest of the battalion, who directs them to a German battery of artillery at Brecourt Manor. Winters brings Pvts. Loraine, Plesha, Liebgott, Hendrix, Petty, Wynn, Ranney, Malarkey, Cpl. Toye, Sgt. Lipton, Sgt. Guarnere, and 2nd Lt. Compton with him to knock out the artillery.
There, they are met with fifty Germans, and a battle ensues. After Winters shoots one German, he, Toye and Loraine take cover behind bushes, Liebgott, Hendrix, Petty and Plesha man Machine guns, Lipton snipes Germans from a tree with Ranney covering him, while Compton, Malarkey, and Guarnere throw grenades, killing most of a machine gun squad.
Winters leads Compton, Guarnere, Malarkey Loraine, Toye, and Wynn into the trenches. Germans are running across the field, while the men shoot them down. Compton kills one soldier with a grenade that explodes as it hits the soldier's head. Wynn gets shot in the butt, and cries out "I'm sorry sir, I goofed!" Winters covers him as he crawls away. Later after capturing the second gun, Hall comes with explosives. Winters puts the explosives, along with a German grenade into the barrel of the cannon to spike the gun.He sends Hall down a trench to get help. He doesn't come though, and Winters goes down and finds a bloody-faced Hall has been killed by a mine. The paratroopers destroy one other gun, and with the help of Lt. Spiers, capture the other. Winters and his men return to Batallion.
That night, Guarnere, Malarkey, Ranney, Liebgott, Lipton, Compton, and Toye eat a meal in a truck to celebrate, (Liebgott leaves because Malarkey farts), Winters meets them. "Whoo, did something die in here?" he asks after sniffing. "Yeah, Malarkey's ass," says Ranney.
To the men's surprise, Winters takes a swig of alcohol. He has also finally won the respect of Guarnere. Before he leaves, Winters turns and says to Guarnere, "I'm not a Quaker." Winters then meets Nixon and tells him that he lost a man, Private Hall. As Nixon leaves, Winters stares at a city, burning under bombs. He then promises himself, that if he survived the war, he would find a quiet piece of the world, and live out the rest of his life in peace.
He is later seen moving with Easy toward the town of Carentan. Along the way, they get separated from Fox Company. He sends Hoobler and Blithe to find them. They then find them, and Blithe goes to tell Winters when he runs into a dead German. Winters and Nixon appear and inform him that he is wearing a flower that is meant to be the mark of a true soldier.
Next day, they come to Carentan. Winters gives the signal, but as the men charge, an MG opens up. Only Hoobler and Luz make it, while two others are killed, and the rest take cover. Winters yells at the men to get going and the men then charge the town. Casualties mount, as the artillery and mortar fire pours in, but eventually, the town is taken. Winters informs the Battalion Staff that it is safe to go. As they run off, a sniper shot goes off, and Winters is struck in the leg by a ricochet.
While being tended to by Doc Roe, Winters notices that Blithe doesn't look okay. Blithe explains that he can't see, he just "blanked out". Winters assures him that he is gonna take him on a plane back to England. As he leaves, Blithe suddenly gets up, declaring he can see, meaning Winters somehow was able to get him back his sight.
Winters then participates in the defense of Carentan, where he is seen encouraging a shell shocked Blithe to start firing, who eventually does. They eventually beat off the attack, and Carentan is safe.
Winters later heads back to England with the rest of his Company. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Brecourt and is promoted to Captain. Winters, now officially confirmed as Easy Company's commander, leads the men at their second jump, as part of Operation Market Garden in Holland. They occupy the village of Eindhoven with no resistance and continue onward, supported by British armor. However, the Allies are misinformed about the German strength in the area, and at Nuenen the Anglo-American attack is quickly beaten back by elite Waffen-SS Panzer units. Winters and Nixon later watch sadly as Eindhoven- which was re-taken by the Germans after Easy retreated- is bombed by the Allies, with Winters remarking that he doesn't like retreating and that the next time the Allies enter Eindhoven, they won't be greeted as liberators.
Winters next leads Easy on a raid against Waffen-SS positions as part of Operation Pegasus, intended to help encircled British paratroopers from Market Garden escape. The operation is a success, and a number of German troops are killed, while 11 prisoners are taken. When Joseph Liebgott is put in charge of the captives, Winters removes all but one round from his gun, warning him that if he tries to kill prisoners the rest will be able to jump him (Liebgott is of Jewish ancestry and harbors vengeful feelings towards the SS). For his success, Winters is made Battalion commander and granted a furlough to Paris; however, he finds himself unable to enjoy his vacation, feeling haunted by the memory of shooting a teenage Waffen-SS soldier during Pegasus.
Winters had been talking to Nixon about who could replace Easy Company now he was battalion CO. They currently had a man, Lieutenant Dyke, who did not really fit the job as he never came across as a good leader and had never seen combat before which they needed in a commander.
During an attack on the village, this was proven correct when Dyke froze up and made stupid mistakes such as ceasing the advance of attack allowing a sniper pick them off one by one and constant shelling to keep them spread out. Winters went to take Dykes place due to his attachment to the company only to be pulled back by Colonel Robert F. Sink. Winters instead had 1st Lt. Speirs take Dykes place which proved a good choice as the company managed to take the town with ease thanks to Speirs,
At Hagenau he was promoted Major. At the scene with the German General speech, Captain Sobel walks past and Winters says "We salute the rank not the man"
Medals and decorations
|Combat Infantryman Badge.|
|Parachutist Badge with 2 combat stars.|
|Medal of the City of Eindhoven,|
|Distinguished Service Cross,|
|Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster.|
|Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster.|
|American Defense Service Medal.|
|National Defense Service Medal.|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. with 3 service stars and arrow device|
|World War II Victory Medal.|
|Army of Occupation Medal.|
|Croix de guerre with palm.|
|French Liberation Medal.|
|War Cross (Belgium) with palm|
|Belgian World War II Service Medal.|