Posted by Curt on 21 April, 2005 at 9:46 am. Be the first to comment!


If any of my half dozen regular readers have seen Band Of Brothers then you will recognize Major Dick Winters name. He led Easy company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from D-Day to the end of the war. His leadership of his men are an inspiration to me.

Greyhawk over at The Mudville Gazette post about an article where the magazine American History interviews the Major.

Major Dick Winters: After Band of Brothers became such an unexpected success, Ambrose wrote me a letter of thanks. In that letter he said, “Thanks for teaching me the duties and responsibilities of a good company commander.” Later on, he again acknowledged me in his book on Lewis and Clark. He continued to do this with every book he wrote afterward. I appreciated that recognition, and I appreciated the fact that he never forgot me. I was one of the first people he called when he said that he had sold the book to Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

Ambrose later wrote me another letter and said that in the future, whenever I had an opportunity, I should talk on the subject of leadership. So, as a way to deliver what I believe is an important message, and to honor my friend’s request, I speak on this subject whenever I have an opportunity.
He writes about his stay in England prior to the invasion:

Shortly, it was decided that the officers were too crowded and some should be boarded with families in the town. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes offered to take two officers in, as long as I was one of them. I took Lieutenant Harry Welsh with me. Our quarters were with the family in a room over their store. It was not a big room, and we slept on army cots, but it got us away from the crowds. Now Welsh, he enjoyed going out in the evenings to the pubs, but I preferred to stay at home with the Barneses. In the evenings, as was their custom, shortly before 9 o’clock when the news came on, Mrs. Barnes would come up and knock on my door and say, “Lieutenant Winters, would you like to come down and listen to the news and have a spot of tea?” So naturally I took the opportunity to join them and listen to the news. Afterward Mr. Barnes, who was a lay minister, would lead us in a short prayer. Then we would have a small treat and chat for a while. Then, at 10, Mr. Barnes would announce that it was time for bed. That ritual became so important. I’d found a home away from home.

And, you see, the day I first saw the Barnes couple they had been decorating the grave of their son, who was in the Royal Air Force and had been killed. They adopted me and made me part of the family. This helped me prepare mentally for what I was about to face. As I look back on the months before the invasion, my stay with the Barnes family was so important. They were giving me the best treatment they could; they gave me a home, which was so important for my maturing.

He then talks about D-Day. If you’ve seen the show or read the book you know how he assaulted that gun battery and saved countless lives at Utah beach:

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Winters leapt out into the flak-filled skies over Normandy and landed outside of Ste. M?re-Eglise just after 1 o’clock in the morning. After a harrowing night, he managed to collect a handful of men from Easy Company and bring them to Le Grand-Chemin, from where he led the attack on a battery of four German guns at Br?court Manor — guns that lay at the end of crucial Causeway No. 2, and that the 4th Infantry Division needed to get off Utah Beach. Of all Winters’ actions in France, the destruction of German guns positioned at Br?court Manor, raining down fire on the Americans struggling off Utah Beach, has been the most often cited. Professors at West Point have used this action as a lesson on the proper method of carrying out a small-unit attack. Chillingly depicted in the HBO miniseries, this daring assault is credited with saving many lives and expediting the advance of American forces inland on D-Day.

After roaming around at the tail end of another column for most of the evening, I finally stumbled into Le Grand-Chemin, where the 2nd Battalion was gathering. At the time, E Company consisted of just 13 men. As I was sitting there with my men, an officer came back and said, “Winters, they want you up front!” When I got there, Captain Clarence Hester turns to me and says: “There’s fire along that hedgerow there. Take care of it.” That was it. There was no elaborate plan or briefing. I didn’t even know what was on the other side of the hedgerow. All I had were my instructions, and I had to quickly develop a plan from there. And as it turns out, I did. We were able to take out those four German guns with the loss of only one man, Private John Hall, who was killed just in front of me. He was a good man, and his death was hard on me. But the attack leaves good memories. We got the job done. It was only later, much later, that I realized how important knocking out those guns had been to our securing Causeway 2, which became the main causeway for troops coming off Utah Beach.

Years later, I heard from someone who had come up off the beach on that causeway. This guy, a medic, had been following behind some tanks. As they came up from the beach, one of the tanks became disabled. When the driver got out, he stepped on a mine. The medic went out into the field and patched this guy up. Later, after the book came out, this medic wrote me a letter and pointed out that he always wondered why the fire onto Utah Beach had stopped. “Thanks very much,” he said. “I couldn’t have made it without those guns being knocked out.” That medic was a man named Eliot Richardson, who, as it turns out, later became attorney general in the Nixon administration. So we did a little good out there for those troops coming in on D-Day, which makes you feel pretty good.
There is a website dedicated to getting the Major a Medal Of Honor for this action which I believe is well deserved. Check out the website here and sign the petition.

There is much more about his experience in the interview, well worth the read.

As a side note, Sgt Malarky will be speaking at OSU in Oregon on the 25th:

World War II veteran Don Malarkey, a sergeant who was one of the inspirations for Stephen E. Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers,” will speak at Oregon State University on Monday, April 25.

His talk, “Freedom is not Free,” begins at 7 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center on campus. It is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, Malarkey will discuss his experiences in World War II Europe, including the liberation of concentration camps, and how “Band of Brothers” came to be. The book was made into a heralded movie on HBO by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

Malarkey was a sergeant in Easy Company during World War II and participated in a number of major operations and battles, including D-Day and Bastogne. Toward the end of the war, he was part of Allied operations that liberated several different concentration camps.

His OSU lecture will launch the university’s Holocaust Memorial Week, which will be commemorated May 2-5.

Malarkey’s appearance is sponsored by the OSU Department of History and the History Club. LaSells Stewart Center is located at 26th Street and Western Boulevard in Corvallis.

Hopefully the moonbats up there treat him with respect.

Also, “Buck” Compton spoke earlier this week at the Boy Scouts and had this to say:

He blamed some of America’s military recruiting problems on what he called a cultural war. He criticized a broad list of people including “left wingers,” socialists, Michael Moore and Jane Fonda.


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