Remembering the death of a major Major

Jessica Jost

Tee shirt of the movie "Band of Brothers"
This tee shirt displays the movie poster associated with the movie, "Band of Brothers." Photo by Sami Peterson
Jan. 2 was a sad day. It wasn’t because winter break was ending or because I was battling a cold. No, Monday was a sad day because it marked the one year anniversary of the death of one of our finest.
On this day in history, Maj. Richard “Dick” Winters died.
It is highly probable that none of our readers recognize his name, but he was a fearsome man. Winters commanded Easy Company of the 101st Airborne during World War II. He was a part of the D-Day operation and parachuted from a plane into Normandy. He led an attack that destroyed a battery of German guns firing onto the causeways that served as the exits for soldiers from Utah Beach. The Germans were estimated to have 50 men at the battery; Winters only had 13 soldiers. But Easy Company destroyed a battery with only these 13 men. The attack he led is still used in instruction at West Point.
Winters led Easy Company at Bastogne, where the entire 101st Airborne and parts of the 10th Armored Division engaged in a week long struggle against an estimated 15 German divisions. After the hostilities at Bastogne, Winters was promoted to Major and was also made the acting battalion commander of the 2nd Battalion. Winters and the rest of the 101st Airborne were sent to occupy Berchtesgaden, Germany, where Hitler’s mountain house was located and where other senior Nazi officials vacationed. It was there that the 101st Airborne celebrated the end of World War II.
He was the last commander of Easy Company to pass away and there are only four members alive today. More than 60 years have passed since WWII, but Winters is still remembered fondly by his fellow soldiers.
“He was a compassionate man and leader,” said Easy Company member and Staff Sgt. Bill Guarnere. “We could use more people like him today.”
With the war over, Winters eased back into civilian life and worked in the plastics adhesives business and eventually went into farming. In 1992 the entire Easy Company rocketed to the spotlight with the publication of Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest which was in turn made into the famous HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers.”
This Jan. 2 in Columbia the Daniel Boone Public Library was closed because of a federal holiday, the Bruin wrestlers faced off against Helias Catholic and won by seven points, but one year ago and 918 miles away, the last commander of Easy Company passed away.
By Jessica Jost