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May 23, 2008

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Dick Winters

He is 90 this year, a frail old man gripped by Parkinson's disease. But in 1941, when he went to war, he was a recruiting-poster-handsome 6-footer, a lieutenant in one of the toughest units ever to wear American uniforms--Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment.


He became an officer because he saw incompetent officers and swore that he could do better. He went Airborne because he wanted to be part of an elite unit, with men he could depend on alongside him. But like every man who fought in that war he was a reluctant soldier;  he wanted nothing more than to get the job done and go home.

When his unit shipped to England Winters was billeted with an English family and had a room to himself. In the spare time he had, he locked himself into that room with a book of tactics and turned himself into a soldier--as it turned out, a remarkable one.

He was brave--unfailingly and almost suicidally so. The men of his unit who survived marvel that he lived. He always put his soldiers first. He was always fair. And in combat, he always made the right decisions. In the first action he commanded, his squad took out a German artillery emplacement, doing it with such efficiency that the action is still used at West Point as a model of how to attack a fixed position.

He was given the Distinguished Service Cross, and there are people working today to have it upgraded to the Medal of Honor. But Dick Winters shows no interest; he agrees with the other paratroopers who jumped on Normandy that the real heroes are the men who lie there forever.

When Band of Brothers aired in 2001, Dick Winters became a celebrity. His mail--already considerable--grew to the point where he was unable to answer it. He does not believe that he is a celebrity, or that he deserves fame. He sees himself simply as a soldier who did the best he could and was lucky to emerge from the war alive. He knows that he and Easy Company are only representatives for other men and other units who fought just as hard and suffered just as much, and that it was by sheer chance that he--and they--became famous.

There are men just like Dick Winters wearing the uniform today, but it is not their fate to serve in a war where the sides are clearly drawn and a united country stands behind them. We will probably never know their names, but that does not detract from what they are or what they do for us.

Monday, May 26, is a good time to thank them.



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Jim in Mo.

Can you believe there are still business' such as where I work occasionally that refuse to close their doors on this great day, in the hope of making a buck?

WA Mtnhunter

As a former Paratrooper and Ranger, I served with men that were the like of Dick Winters, but perhaps not quite as steeled in war.

My father also served in the 101st Airborne Division in WWII and the 187th Regimental Combat Team (ABN) in Korea. A quiet man (except yelling at us kids), who never spoke of exploits of war, but had nerves of steel and the backbone to stand for what he believed in.

I can never see myself measuring up to those standards. God bless men like Dick Winters and their sacrifices.

Petzal, I'll buy you a drink if we ever cross paths. It won't be a lite beer neither. Keep reminding us of the men who made this country great and perhaps we can compare those men to the spineless, greedy, immoral scum bags that aspire to govern the rest of us.

Jim in Mo.

Wa Mtnhunter,
As we speak Histoy channel is running special on 101st.


Yes, those soldiers of the WW2 era suffered through a lot. But it is a new era. Irak was never a threat to the US. That country has been destroyed for no good reason. Are we honoring the past or just reveling in militarism? Time to ask some questions before more people are sent off to kill or be killed for no good reason.

WA Mtnhunter

Jim in MO,

I'll try to catch the re-run. Is it modern day "leg" 101 or the real deal?

Jim in Mo.

Wa Mtnhunter,
WWII. The crauts had em surrounded. Thats all I'll tell you don't want to spoil the end.

WA Mtnhunter


I think plenty of questions were asked before we deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Check the Congressional record and how your liberal Congressman voted and how they were against the war before they voted for it and are now were always opposed to it.

Perhaps the answers to those questions are not to your liking nowadays. Whatever.

Memorial Day and rememberance of our fallen heroes is not about what you or anyone else thinks about the politics of war.

Comments like yours make me sick to my stomach when expressed in conjunction with commentary on men like Dick Winters. But, I support your right to express your thoughts. I spent 22 years of my life defending your Constitutional rights to do so.

WA Mtnhunter

Yeah, they had my father and 2 uncles in various units surrounded at Bastogne. We know how that one turned out!


/dismiss Don

I dont have much respect for people who take Memorial Day as an oppertunity play politics by complaining about the respect we give the men who have served.

Memorial Day is about their sacrifices so do us a favor and shut the ---- up.

(I dont have to think Iraq was a good idea to honor the soldiers who gave their lives there.)

Don Adams

This is a great blog that I enjoy reading and learning from. I seldom reply, but when I do please don't mistake me for the other Don. Mtnhunter and dartwick are right on track. Let's remember our comrades that never came home.

Duck Creek Dick

I wish Mr. Winters the very best this Memorial Day, as well with the other WWII and Korean War vets.
WaMtnHunter better explain what a "leg" is and maybe give us a stanza or two of "Blood on the Risers". I'm a Ft. Benning guy myself and still remember all my jump commands, but my PLF's are getting too creaky.


Gee, I can't think of a better way to remember the men who fought to make sure we don't all speak German today than by spending the entire day at the hardware store looking for holiday specials on ductape. I'll find another way to mark the day...


I read “Band of Brothers” and watched the HBO series. The interviews of the actual unit members and of Major Winters are outstanding. Major Winters views of Officership and Leadership are a must for anyone who’s in the Officer Corps or aspires to the Officer Corps..


"I wanna be an airborne Ranger,
I wanna live a life of danger..."

"More PC, Sarge. We love PC!"

Thoughts: "What am I doing here? I'm USAF."

"Gory, Gory...Hel-leva way to die...."


I had a cousin who went to Vietnam. He saw terrible things there, friends of his killed. There was some war over there, believe me. But when he came home, people spoke tactfully around him, sort of like you do when you meet someone who just got released from a mental hospital. The Vietnam war was unpopular, and the soldiers paid the price. They never got their parade.

I wrote that to write this; our troops are NOT destroying Iraq, they are rebuilding it. They are doing a whale of a job. Don't confuse your feelings for George W. or the war for the job they are doing.


First, it is spelled Iraq.
Second, you need to go blog and whine with the other pinkos at move on or move over or move out or whatever.
Third, Do you understand the concept of "Fight them there, with our professional military, or fight them HERE, in our homeland?"


Yeah, some people never learn. Fight another war for no good reason. Go sign up for the next disaster in Iran!;-)


I want to say to all US military veterans and active duty a big THANK YOU

WA Mtnhunter


You are correct in that we should never fight a war for no good reason. But once the elected government sends our men and women in harm's way, we should honor those who did their sworn duty and focus our issues with the politicians who started the shooting. Soldiers usually don't start wars, they pay the highest price.

Dr. Ralph

Amen Dave... and that's what all the soldiers I know say. The real heroes are the one's that didn't make it back.


I have always found it interesting and reassuring that men like Dick Winters, who were there when the proverbial sh** hit the fan, are always the most modest and humble of men.

My favorite line from the series was when Winters said; "I promised myself that if I survived, I would find a small peice of land and live out my days in peace."

My wife and I used to live beside of an elderly couple, and since I have always been a history buff, we got to be really good friends with them. So after a while I asked the gentleman if he had served in WWII. He said only: "I was in the Marines." He then said goodbye and went off to watch Wheel of Fortune. I immediately apologized to his wife and said I didn't mean to upset him, I was just curious. She said: "he really likes you, and I am sure he is not mad, he just doesn't like to talk about it." She then told me that he was highly decorated and had served in the Pacific island hopping campaigns and the expeditionary forces that went into Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She said that he still had nightmares over what he saw.

Later on I apologized to him and he told me a little more about his experiences. He said; "anyone who braggs about killing people or seeing people killed either: 1) wasn't actually there, or 2) is somehow derranged. He then said; I was a 20 year old kid who scared out of my mind. I was no more patriotic than the next guy, I just didn't want to see my friends die."


I have seen the series "Band of Brothers" and have the utmost respect for these great men and their accomplishments!
Thank you to MISTER Winters, I wish him well this Memorial Day.

My favorite line in the movie?
"You salute the uniform, Lt. Sobel, not the man!"



He was just a rookie trooper and he surely shook with fright.
He checked off his equipment and made sure his pack was tight.
He had to sit and listen to those awful engines roar.
You ain't gonna jump no more.

Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
Gory, gory, what a hell of way to die.
He ain't gonna jump no more.

"Is everybody happy?" cried the sergeant looking up.
Our hero feebly answered, "Yes", and then they stood him up.
He jumped into the icy blast, his static line unhooked.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

He counted long, he counted loud, he waited for the shock.
He felt the wind, he felt the cold, he felt the awful drop.
The silk from his reserve spilled out and wrapped around his legs.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The risers swung around his neck, connectors cracked his dome.
Suspension lines were tied in knots around his skinny bones.
The canopy became his shroud, he hurtled to the ground.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The days he lived and loved and laughed kept running through his mind.
He thought about the girl back home, the one he left behind.
He thought about the medicos and wondered what they'd find.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

The ambulance was on the spot, the jeeps were running wild.
The medics jumped and screamed with glee, rolled up their sleeves and smiled.
For it had been a week or more since last a 'chute had failed.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

He hit the ground, the sound was "Splat," his blood went spurting high.
His comrades they were heard to say, "A helluva way to die."
He lay there rolling 'round in the welter of his gore.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

There was blood upon the risers, there were brains upon the 'chute.
Intestines were a-dangling from his paratrooper suit.
He was a mess, they picked him up and poured him from his boots.
And he ain't gonna jump no more.

Ralph the Rifleman

Nice article Dave...
My prayers go out to all those who fought,lived, and died for our freedom.

Trae B.

Well Thomas thats the first horror movie/song that ive ever heard.

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