Monday, January 10, 2011

Band of Brothers Subject Dies

One of Pennsylvania's most famous veterans has died. Major Dick Winters was born in Lancaster County, and lived in Hershey, Dauphin County, for the bulk of his life. He rose from lieutenant to major during World War II, leading a company of the 101st Airborne during the D-Day invasion, and earning the Distinguished Service Cross for destroying a German battery aimed at Utah Beach. Winters also fought in the Battle of the Bulge and ultimately captured Hitler's Bavarian headquarters. He was also awarded the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

Stephen Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" book and the accompanying HBO miniseries made Winters' and Easy Company's exploits famous. “It really just blew all of this out of the water. And it took him a bit by surprise. Because while he knew the story was important, he didn't realize how significant his story seemed to everyone,” says Nikki Soliday, the executive director of the Hershey Derry Township Historical Society. The group features an exhibit recreating Winters' home office and World War II memorabilia.

Soliday says she is always asked the same question, “Is he really as good as he is portrayed in the miniseries? “And my answer is always the same: he's better. His values, his character really are the foundation of him.” And that character kept him modest according to Soliday, “Never once did, in anything that I spoke to Major Winters about, did he take personal credit. It was always the men in the company. The officer really was the caretaker. The unit belonged to the soldiers.”

Winters died at age 92.

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