Captain Ronald C. Speirs was the leader of Dog Company in the 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR of the 101st Airborne. His unit was absorbed into Easy Company during Bastogne and he was assigned as Company Commander after relieving 1st Lieutenant Dike of duty during the assault on Foye, Belgium.
Ronald Speirs was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 20 April 1920 and later emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts on 26 December 1924. He then went through military training in high school and eventually made 2nd Lieutenant.
Speirs joined the 101st Airborne and was assigned to Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, at Camp Toccoa. He was later transferred to Dog Company, 2nd Battalion, and made 1st Lieutenant. After training, he headed to England to await their next mission. At Aldbourne, he married a British widow and together they had a son named Robert.
Speirs, his unit and Easy Company eventually dropped into Normandy on 6 June 1944. On D-Day morning, it was said he gave cigarettes to Nazi POWs and immediately shot them with his submachine gun. Malarkey (according to the series) was nearby when it happened. Speirs then helped in the Brecourt Manor Assault, where he took 5 Dog Company Soldiers and a Fox Company Soldier and single-handedly took out a 105mm Howitzer.
He took part in the battle of Carentan and was moved to hold the line at a field outside the town. It was here he encountered Private Albert Blithe and told him that the reason Blithe hid in a ditch and didn't fight was that he still believed there was hope but he must lose hope to truly function as a soldier. When the Germans assaulted their position the next morning, he and his company retreated due to suffering a severe tank assault. Easy company held the position and he and his men returned to the position.
During the Normandy Campaign, Speirs was wounded by a German M24 grenade (called a 'Potato Masher') in the face and knee. He recovered and returned to Dog Company. He then jumped into Holland on 17 September. During Operation Market Garden, he swam across the Neder river with vital information, in spite of being wounded in the buttocks by a machine gun, which was still firing at him. He won a Silver Star for his actions.
Speirs was then sent to Belgium on 17 December to fight at the Battle of Bulge (Bastogne). He encountered Perconte, Christenson and a new paratrooper. He offered them cigarettes but they refused due to the rumor of what he did to the German POWs. He advised them to better fortify their position but they said 1st Lt Dike already said they were suitably fortified.
During the attack on Foy, Easy Company's CO Lt. Norman Dike encountered shell shock, so Captain Richard Winters relieved Dike and made Speirs Company Commander. Thanks to him, they were able to take the town of Foy. Speirs did remarkable things, including running across a road in the German-occupied town to hook up with I company, and then returned despite it being suicidal to do so.
After taking the town he talked to First Sergeant Lipton about his supposed rumor and how it was just that; a rumor. Lipton thanked him for being commander they needed only for Speirs to correct him that Lipton himself had been commanding Easy Company in Dike's place. He then told him that Captain Winters had put him in for a Battlefield Commission and Colonel Sink had approved. First Sergeant Lipton was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant receiving his official commission in Haguenau. He congratulated him and left him to rest.
After Belgium, Easy then went to occupy Germany on 2 April 1945. He and the Company liberated a Nazi concentration camp at Landsberg, and later Hitler's Eagles Nest at Berchtesgaden. After Germany surrendered on 8 May, Speirs decided to stay and prepare to fight in Japan; however, Japan surrendered in August and the war ended.
After the war, Speirs and his first wife divorced because she wanted to stay with her close-knit family in England instead of following Speirs to America. They had one son together.
Speirs eventually volunteered to fight in the Korean War and was commander of a rifle company, making one combat jump.
Speirs attended a Russian language course in 1956 and eventually was made a liaison officer to the Red Army. He subsequently became governor of Berlin's Spandau Prison in 1958, but returned to the US Army and was on a mission to the Royal Lao Army in 1962. He retired from the Army in 1964 as a Lieutenant Colonel and stayed with his family in California.
Speirs died in Montana on 11 April 2007.
Among the men of Easy Company, there were rumors that Speirs gave cigarettes to 20 Nazi POWs and later shot all but one, but this account was later reduced to six POWs. He also shot a Sergeant for being drunk and insubordinate: Speirs reported this to his own commander, who stated he would consider reporting Speirs for charges, but the commander was killed in action shortly after and the matter was never pursued. In an interview with Major Dick Winters late in his life, when asked about Speirs he confirmed that Speirs by his own verbal admission, and in a written letter stated he committed both acts. (source https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-V6OAtgr6c)