Richard D. Winters
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Richard D. Winters

Band of Brothers

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About Him

Grew up… in Texas never wanting to be a soldier. In fact, he volunteered in the U.S. Army early in 1941 to avoid being drafted if there were to be a war. Of course, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor not long after and no further discharges were permitted.

Living… on the front line in Normandy. Winters and his fellow troops were dropped behind the front line in Northern France on the night before D-Day. “We’re not lost, Private,” he says to an unknown solider. “We’re in Normandy.”

Profession… First Lieutenant (and later, Major) in “Easy” Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Winters acts as the de-facto leader of Easy Company during the invasion of France. He joined the paratroopers because he wanted to serve among the best of the best.

Interests… surviving the war. Winters doesn’t fight out of bravery or friendship. He leads his troops because he has to, from somewhere deep inside. He’ll do anything he can to protect all of his men. If he can accomplish that, he will have earned a lifetime of ease. As he overlooks the destruction being leveled on the Normandy coast, he says, “And if, somehow, I manage to get home again, I promise God and myself that I will find a quiet place of land someplace and spend the rest of my life in peace.”

Challenge… staying calm. Everyone in the war is scared, but those who know how to control their fear have the best chance to stay alive. Winters is confident that he and his men have the self-control to survive in the Battle of Europe: “These men have been through the toughest training the army has to offer, under the worst possible circumstances, and they volunteered for it.”

Personality… tough, but kind. Winters does not rule with an iron fist, like many other Commanding Officers. He won the trust of his men by proving that he can stay focused under gunfire.

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