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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.

Winters

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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Comments

WA Mtnhunter

Trae B

Well, boy, if you were a for real no-sh-- paratrooper you would know what the song is.

Thomas

I haven't thought of that in a few years!

A favoite epitaph:

"Here lies the bones
of Ranger Jones

He was rough, he was tough,
and he was ready

But he died I'm afraid
on his very first raid

Cause he hadn't planned it well.
Now had he?"

DUCK CREEK DICK
If I have to explain what a "leg" is, I'm talking to the wrong crowd. Ever drink a beer at Donato's in Columbus (Oak Park)?

BarkeyVA

I was born on Dec. 27, 1942, so I was too young to personally remember WWII which was truely a national effort. I do remember stories of how my family endured shortages and other hardships during that war. While obviously not the same as serving in combat, I think that anyone who toiled long hours in factories and on farms to provide food, fiber and material to support the war effort (like my father, now 90, who worked our family farm) deserves our respect and our thanks.

My older cousin served in Korea and was given the Silver Star for his heroism in combat. He was captured and held prisoner for several months before the war ended and he was released. He was listed as missing in action and the family did not know if he was alive or dead. He was in his 60's and had just returned from a trip to Korea and reunion with his old artillery unit before he was willing (able?) to share some of his experiences and show me the many metals he received. I have the highest regard for my cousin and others like him.

lastearlofshaw

WOW !

That was a fitting tribute...

joel

Dick Winters is truly an american hero. I saw Band of Brothers. I was 6years old when WWII started. All of the men in my faminy went to war, the women when to work in defense jobs. My Mother was a sheet metalsmith at NAS Jacksonville, Fl. My Dad served 3 1/2 years in the So. Pacific in the CBs. All of the men came home. Thank God. God bless them all.

wolfjaw

Dave,

First, let me salute you for honoring Dick Winters, our veterans and our country. You unfailingly do so through this always interesting blog.

I am a long time fan of the late historian, Stephen Ambrose so much of what I know about Dick Winters and his band of brothers I got from his books. Regretably, the men and women who lived through WW-II and Korea are passing away and their high sense of duty and patriotism with them. The ignorance of the present generation is exeeded only by their ignorance. I'm afraid we will not see an unselfish, dedicated and "win at all costs" gerneration like theirs again.

wolfjaw

Dave,

First, let me salute you for honoring Dick Winters, our veterans and our country. You unfailingly do so through this always interesting blog.

I am a long time fan of the late historian, Stephen Ambrose so much of what I know about Dick Winters and his band of brothers I got from his books. Regretably, the men and women who lived through WW-II and Korea are passing away and their high sense of duty and patriotism with them. The ignorance of the present generation is exeeded only by their ignorance. I'm afraid we will not see an unselfish, dedicated and "win at all costs" gerneration like theirs again.

KJ

Dave, and other veterans in the blogosphere - Thanks so much.

WAMtnHunter - Nuts!

Jim in Mo.

Barkey/joel,
My parent and grandparents used to talk of these hardships and shortages and just plain doin without, but as they told these wonderful stories there was always a smile on their face and a far away look in their eyes. The stories took on a romantic feel.
I believe they are who they are because they had no expectations of gov. assistance nor ever a lifes not fair attitude.

ChevJim

I once went to an Episcopal Church in which Memorial Day or Veterans Day scarcely drew any notice from our priest in his homily. He did say that the US had dropped more bombs since the 1970s than in all of WWII. I don't go to that church any more.

Chuck

I am 57, spent 4 very formative years playing with some guys who wore funny green outfits called uniforms back in the 70's. We blew things up and shot guns, made lot's of noise. I got goosebumps reading "Blood upon the Risers" again.
For those of you who think we got into this war "for no good reason" you can thank Jimmy Carter and his "moral Equivalency" comments. Due to to his traitorous action as Chief executive (Screw-up), he completely destabilized an area of the world that was already very tense. Remember the Teheran hostages, 144 Americans held and brutalized, that was all due to Carter's incompetence. He gave legitimacy to succeeding regimes that have done far more wicked things than the Shah ever did. He started a chain of events which have resulted in many terrorist acts against the US, in Beirut,the USS COLE, The Kobar Towers, World Trade Center in 1993, and 2001. After the embarrassing way the US responded in Somalia (watch the movie Blackhawk Down, the US allowed US Army Rangers and Delta Force people to be killed without retaliation) Obama, I'm sorry, I meant Osama Bin Laden decided we didn't have the stomach to fight them. We now have too many people who don't understand what we're fighting for. That would be to keep it from coming here. Every single senator and congressman who plays politics in this war to gain points against it IS A TRAITOR. John Murtha included. He was decorated in VIetnam,okay big deal, Timothy McVeigh was decorated in the first gulf war. and we know what a patriot he turned out to be.(I had friends killed on the Murrah bombing)
But I digress...
As has been said, we didn't pick this fight, but we intend to end it.
Every time I see an individual in uniform I thank them, When I came back to the "world" I got spit on , called a baby killer, etc.
Don't let this happen again. Fly the Flag and thank the vets, especially if you disagree with me

Michael

Thanks Dave for a very moving reminder of what Memorial day is for. Many school kids today do not know what Memorial Day is or why it is a holiday (One that is not observed by many school districts) Don is an example of the mind set of many people today who take the freedoms we now have for granted. Beginning with the Revolutionary War through the present day, our freedoms and way of life have been won and preserved by the men and women of the military. May I remind the anti gun crowd that many of the early fighting men who answered the call to arms were private citizens armed with their personal weapons. This is one of the rights our military has certainly fought and died for.

Ken

Thanks to all the men and women in uniform.I spent 21yrs in the Navy and spent two tours in Vietnam in the brown water navy. My son who graduated from college last year finally asked what I did and I had a hard time explaning. My oldest son was in the Marines for five years and did two tours in Iraq. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all who serve and have served thier country and the sacrafices they have made.

Thomas

WA MntHunter,
I served with the 101st, in Ft Campbell, KY back in 1989. When we were building up for Desert Shield in Iraq I. I made the few jumps that were required. Then I fractured both my knee's in a non jump related training exercise. By the way did I mention that I hate the swinging log that you have to hurtle over. Being a relatively short person I only have 26 1/2" legs and the swinging log came up to my chest. Needless to say every time I went to hurtle over it I would smash my knee. First one side then the other. I could not proceed one till I did it. Took me about 6 or 7 tries. I finished the coarse jogged back to the company area and then rode the truck to the base hospital with the rest of the guys that injured them selfs on the obstacle coarse. I was not the only one on crutches after that.

Tom the Troll.

Thomas

WA MntHunter,
Duck Creek Dick, asked you for a few stanza's of "Blood on the Risers." Since you did not post it I thought I would for you. It had been a while since I thought of that song also. One of these days I would like to locate a Cd with all those old running cadences we used to run too. Unfortunitly most of them are now unPC, sexist or just unapproved to sing now.

Tom the Troll

tjbbpgob

Ah, "Blood On the Risers", outfingstanding, haven't sung that in years. Do you remember the words to "Beautiful Streamer"? I think that was the name of the song, sung to the tune of "Beautiful Dreamer". I think if Don had been in an airborne unit they would have still called him a leg. I know he's not "Static Line" Don.God Bless Dick Winters and all his crew and everyone else from those wars, we owe them everything.

Bill Ballow

My father was in WW2 and like Dick Winters never considered himself a hero. There is a war memorial in our town, Great Falls Montana, where you can buy a plaque and have the name of a service man placed on it. Dad refused to have his name on the wall because he said he was "just doing his job" and plaques are for heroes.

Bill Ballowe

Bill Ballowe

My father was in WW2 and like Dick Winters never considered himself a hero. There is a war memorial in our town, Great Falls Montana, where you can buy a plaque and have the name of a service man placed on it. Dad refused to have his name on the wall because he said he was "just doing his job" and plaques are for heroes.

Bill Ballowe

Thomas

Beautiful streamer, open for me,
Blue skies above me and no canopy;
Counted nine thousands, counted too long,
Reached for the rip cord, the damn thing was gone.

Beautiful streamer, why must it be?
White silk above me is what I should see,
Just like my mother that looks over me;
To hell with the rip cord, 'twas not made for me.

Beautiful streamer, follow me down,
Time is elapsing and here comes the ground;
Six hundred feet and then I can tell,
If I'll go to heaven or end up in hell.

Beautiful streamer, this is the end,
Gabriel is blowing, my body won't mend;
All you jump happy son's of a gun,
Take this last warning as jumping's no fun.

Bernie Kuntz

I have the book, "Band of Brothers" and saw the DVD series twice. Dick Winters certainly was the soldier's soldier. God bless him and all who defend this country.

I had a total of ten uncles on my father's and mother's sides, and nine of them served in the military. My brother is an Army veteran, I served with 1st Marine Division in Vietnam, my daughter was an Army nurse at Kandahar, Afghanistan. I am proud of them all.

Thomas

For those who need something a little more Patriotic this weekend,for your open air BBQ's. Dig out a RF transmitter for your computer and your stereo. Give HOOAH!!! Radio a listen. It is a veteran owned internet radio station.

We'd like to welcome you to HOOAH!!!! Radio, the ONLY veteran owned, FREE internet-based radio station Saluting our troops, veterans and their Families. HOOAH!!!! Radio brings another way for families and soldiers to connect with one another, another way for us to salute our men and women of the US Military and Allied Forces being active duty or a veteran, and to act as a source of entertainment, directed towards their interests and personalities. For them, by them and their families.

http://www.hooahradio.com/

Carney

I'm proud to be an American! And that, for many reasons, not the least of which is the legacy left to us by "The Greatest Generation". Ordinary men and women whose circumstances called them to become extraordinary in character, courage, resolve, life...

Thomas

Duck Creek Dick,
Here is a website that will help clue you in to some of the slang and acronyms used. I read through the list and had a pretty good laugh at some of ones I haven't heard in years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._Army_acronyms_and_expressions

Tom the Troll

Zermoid

If you don't like the war bitch at the politicians who started it, not the troops who were ordered to fight it.
God Bless and Protect all of our Troops!

Gman

Ah, how I love the lectures about patriotism, castigating those of us who dress to the left.

I especially enjoyed Chuck's rant about Carter, which did not mention the 25 years or so of simmering Persian anger for which the 1953 CIA-planned coup was a major catalyst.

It's much easier to blame the liberal without putting things into context. Who's acting like a leg now?

Thos. B. Fowler

Thank you Sir, for the tribute to Dick Winters...Mario "Hank" DiCarlo served in another company, but had nothing but respect for this fine officer and American.

This is their time, and others like them, to be remembered and honored. This country--our country, of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, produced quality, reliable men and women who put us first...now we should return the gesture.

Thanks to all those who have stood with rifles in hand, and loyalty in their hearts. We are forever in their debt.

Tom Fowler




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