Major Richard "Dick" Winters is the main character of the Band of Brothers miniseries.
Richard Winters was born on January 21, 1918, in Dallas, Texas to Becky and Anita Bath Winters. His family moved to Ephrata when he was 8, and later to Lancaster. He had a younger sister named Ann. He graduated from Lancaster Boys' High School in 1937, and from Franklin & Marshall College in June 1941.
He earned money by cutting grass, and later by working at a grocery store, and finally as a painter of high tension towers for Edison Electric Company. He volunteered for the Army on August 25, 1941. Because at that time you could serve in the army for one year and be out, and to avoid being drafted in the beginning of a promising career. He went through training at Camp Croft, South Carolina as a Private. However, after the United States entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, no further discharges were permitted and Winters was forced to remain in the army.
He continued training with the Army. Winters' platoon leader was from ROTC and did not know his job. For instance, the platoon leader talked to his platoon for an hour about the M1 Garand Rifle while holding a Springfield 1903 in his hands. After that experience, Winters chose to attend Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was there he met his friend Lewis Nixon.
After graduating on June 2, 1942, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was impressed by the Paratroopers and chose to enlist in the Airborne at that time, and was sent to train at Camp Toccoa, Georgia.
He was assigned to Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to 2nd Platoon as a platoon leader. It was there he met the overly strict Captain Herbert Sobel, who commanded the company.
Winters and his men would run up and down Currahee mountain and were driven by Sobel to perform additional calisthenics beyond what other parachute companies were required.
One night, when Winters was accompanying Easy Company up Currahee for a hike, Private Randleman complained that Sobel hated the Company. Winters replied in a joking manner, "He doesn't hate Easy Company. He just hates you."
In the morning, he told his friend Lt. Nixon that he was ordered by Sobel to arbitrarily select several privates to receive latrine duty as punishment for infractions, to which Lewis replied he had a headmaster like Sobel. Winters was promoted to First Lieutenant by the now Captain Sobel and became the executive officer of Easy Company, replacing 1st Lt. Clarence Hester, who had been moved to Battalion.
Sobel gave Winters mess duty and asks him to make spaghetti as a reward for the men as it was a rainy day and they were not gonna be doing their run. But he then interrupted the meal by ordering the Company to go on a run in the rain anyway. Many of the company members puked their meal as they were running.
At Fort Benning, Winters qualified as a paratrooper and went with the Company to Camp Mackall, and later Camp Shanks in 1943.
Easy Company headed to Aldbourne, England to await orders and go through more training. While there, Sobel lead the 2nd Platoon in a race to a certain checkpoint, while Winters lead 1st Platoon. Sobel and his platoon became lost and were blocked by a fence, and Sobel was tricked into cutting it by George Luz who was imitating Major Horton.
Winters reached the checkpoint first, and his platoon come across an elderly man on a bike who put his hands up in mock surrender saying, "You Yanks have done it. You've captured me." Sobel and his platoon appeared down the road, running towards the checkpoint, and the elderly man inquired, "Is that the enemy?" Winters says, "As a matter of fact, yes."
Later, Winters was punished by Sobel for not following an order, but requested a court martial, which is not what Sobel wanted. Ultimately, Sobel was relieved of the command of Easy Company, and upon leaving, Winters saluted him, which was not met. While preparing for the drop in Normandy, Winters met 2nd Lieutenant Buck Compton and reprimanded him for gambling with the enlisted men. Before the invasion, Nixon and Winters shared a small memory of Sobel when he was in command (shown in the beginning of Episode 1). Finally, Easy Company set out for the drop into Normandy.
Winters was sitting huddled in the C-47 carrying him and some members of Easy Company. When they reached France, explosions erupted around the planes, as the Germans fired anti-aircraft guns at them. Winters witnessed a plane split in half from one of the shells. Another shell exploded near one of Winter's men, tearing open the window. Fortunately, the man was unscathed.
Before they reached their position, a nearby shell killed the co-pilot, and the pilot in panic immediately gave the green light indicating they should jump. Winters made the jump, but his leg bag containing his weapons was torn from him as he exited the airplane, leaving him only his knife. Winters landed safely, but not at his objective. None of his men were nearby. He met a young man named Hall, who was separated from Able Company. Hall tagged along with Winters.
Winters later regrouped with half a platoon sized section of his men. Along their way to the checkpoint, they came across a German patrol. Winters and the half-platoon lay concealed and Winters told them to wait for his command to fire. But before he gave the order, Guarnere began to fire his submachine gun, slaughtering some of the Germans. Winters, with his position exposed, ordered the rest of men to attack.
They killed the Germans on a wagon driven by horses with a grenade, while two other wagons escape. Guarnere continued to fire his gun, killing one horse, and injuring the other horse, and he didn't hesitate to kill the last soldier.
An annoyed Winters chewed Guarnere out, telling him to wait for his command. Joseph Toye put the injured horse out of its misery with his pistol.
. After encountering the aftermath of a firefight, Winters was given a German weapon, and the group proceeded to their checkpoint.
They linked up with the rest of the battalion, who directed them to a German battery of artillery at Brecourt Manor. Winters brought Pvts. Loraine, Plesha, Liebgott, Hendrix, Petty, Hall, Wynn, Ranney, Malarkey, Cpl. Toye, Sgt. Lipton, Sgt. Guarnere, and 2nd Lt. Compton with him to knock out the artillery.
There, they were met with fifty Germans, and a battle ensued. After Winters shot one German, he, Toye and Loraine took cover behind bushes. Liebgott, Hendrix, Petty and Plesha manned Machine guns, Lipton sniped Germans from a tree with Ranney covering him, while Compton, Malarkey, and Guarnere threw grenades, killing most of a machine gun squad.
Winters lead Compton, Guarnere, Malarkey Loraine, Toye, and Wynn into the trenches. Germans were running across the field, while the men shot them down. Compton killed one soldier with a grenade that exploded as it hit the soldier's head. Wynn got shot in the butt, and cried out "I'm sorry sir, I goofed!" Winters covered him as he crawled away. Later, after capturing the second gun, Hall came with explosives. Winters put the explosives, along with a German grenade into the barrel of the cannon to spiked the gun.
He sent Hall down a trench to get help. He didn't came though, and Winters went down and found a bloody-faced Hall had been killed by a mine. The paratroopers destroyed one other gun, and with the help of Lt. Spiers, captured the other. Winters and his men returned to Batallion.
That night, Guarnere, Malarkey, Ranney, Liebgott, Lipton, Compton, and Toye ate a meal in a truck to celebrate, (Liebgott left because Malarkey farted), Winters met them. "Whoo, did something die in here?" he asks after sniffing. "Yeah, Malarkey's ass," says Ranney.
To the men's surprise, Winters took a swig of alcohol. He had also finally won the respect of Guarnere. Before he left, Winters turned and said to Guarnere, "I'm not a Quaker." Winters then met Nixon and told him that he lost a man, Private Hall. As Nixon left, Winters stared at a city, burning under bombs. He then promised himself, that if he survived the war, he would find a quiet piece of the world, and live out the rest of his life in peace.
He was later seen moving with Easy toward the town of Carentan. Along the way, they got separated from Fox Company. He sent Hoobler and Blithe to find them. They then found them, and Blithe went to tell Winters when he ran into a dead German. Winters and Nixon appeared and informed him that he was wearing a flower that is meant to be the mark of a true soldier.
Next day, they came to Carentan. Winters gave the signal, but as the men charged, an MG opened up. Only Hoobler and Luz made it, while two others were killed, and the rest took cover. Winters yelled at the men to get going and the men then charged the town. Casualties mounted, as the artillery and mortar fire poured in, but eventually, the town was taken. Winters informed the Battalion Staff that it was safe to go. As they ran off, a sniper shot went off, and Winters was strucked in the leg by a ricochet.
While being tended to by Doc Roe, Winters noticed that Blithe didn't look okay. Blithe explained that he couldn't see, he just "blanked out". Winters assured him that he was gonna take him on a plane back to England. As he left, Blithe suddenly got up, declaring he could see, meaning Winters' speech somehow helped him get his sight back.
Winters then participated in the defense of Carentan, where he was seen encouraging a shell-shocked Blithe to start firing, who eventually did. They managed to beat off the attack and Carentan was safe.
Winters later headed back to England with the rest of his Company. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Brecourt and was promoted to Captain. Winters, now officially confirmed as Easy Company's commander, lead the men at their second jump, as part of Operation Market Garden in Holland. They occupied the village of Eindhoven with no resistance and continued onward, supported by British armor. However, the Allies were misinformed about the German strength in the area, and at Nuenen the Anglo-American attack was quickly beaten back by elite Waffen-SS Panzer units. Winters and Nixon later watched sadly as Eindhoven- which was re-taken by the Germans after Easy retreated- was bombed by the Allies, with Winters remarking that he didn't like retreating and that the next time the Allies enter Eindhoven, they wouldn't be greeted as liberators.
Winters next lead Easy on a raid against Waffen-SS positions as part of Operation Pegasus, intended to help encircled British paratroopers from Market Garden escape. The operation was a success, and a number of German troops were killed, while 11 prisoners were taken. When Joseph Liebgott was put in charge of the captives, Winters removed all but one round from his gun, warning him that if he tried to kill prisoners the rest would be able to jump him (Liebgott is of Jewish ancestry and harbors vengeful feelings towards the SS). For his success, Winters was made Battalion commander and granted a furlough to Paris. However, he found himself unable to enjoy his vacation, feeling haunted by the memory of shooting a teenage Waffen-SS soldier during Pegasus.
Winters had been talking to Nixon about who could replace Easy Company now that he was battalion CO. They currently had a man, Lieutenant Dyke, who did not really fit the job as he never came across as a good leader and had never seen combat before which they needed in a commander.
During an attack on the village of Foy, this was proven correct when Dyke froze up and made stupid mistakes such as ceasing the advance of attack allowing a sniper to pick them off one by one and constant shelling to keep them spread out. Winters went to take Dyke's place due to his attachment to the company only to be pulled back by Colonel Robert F. Sink. Winters instead had 1st Lt. Speirs take Dyke's place which proved a good choice as the Company managed to take the town with ease thanks to Speirs,
At Hagenau, he was promoted Major. At the scene with the German General speech, Captain Sobel walked past and Winters said "We salute the rank not the man."
Medals and decorations
|Combat Infantryman Badge.|
|Parachutist Badge with 2 combat stars.|
|Medal of the City of Eindhoven,|
|Distinguished Service Cross,|
|Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster.|
|Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster.|
|American Defense Service Medal.|
|National Defense Service Medal.|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. with 3 service stars and arrow device|
|World War II Victory Medal.|
|Army of Occupation Medal.|
|Croix de guerre with palm.|
|French Liberation Medal.|
|War Cross (Belgium) with palm|
|Belgian World War II Service Medal.|
Winters is depicted as having an easygoing but serious nature. He shows his humorous side when Randleman complains that Sobel hates them, where Winters says "He doesn't hate Easy Company, he just hates you". He is also smart, when he guesses that Joe Liebgott would shoot 11 German prisoners, he empties the soldiers gun, and leaves one bullet, saying, "You shoot one, the rest will jump you."