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Dick Winters, of Band of Brothers fame recounts the experience of attacking a numerically superior foe. The events he describes happened along the Rhine River in October, 1944, and the attack prevented a German breakthrough of the American lines.
There was only one thing to do. I withdrew my men to an adjoining gully to assess the situation. I got in touch with company headquarters and told them to send up the reserve platoon. After I was joined by another platoon and some additional machine guns, I went off by myself a little way to assess the situation and decide what to do. My group was the only thing separating the Germans from the rear of my battalion. So I decided we must charge them. I returned to the gully where the rest of the platoon was, and after ordering fixed bayonets, which makes every man have a second thought, I signaled when to throw a smoke grenade. This was the order to charge. As I leap off and begin the charge I am pretty pumped up. In fact, I have never been more pumped up in my life. I ran faster across the field separating us from the Germans than I have ever run in my life. All the men in the company are behind me, but they seem to be moving so slow. Nobody seemed to be moving normally, only me. When I got up to the road where the Germans were, there was a German in front of me, so I shot him. I then turn to my right, and there I see a whole company of Germans. I began firing into them, and they seemed to be moving so slow and then the rest of the company joined me. As the boys said later, it was a duck shoot. They never had a target like that before. We had caught two companies of SS soldiers pinned to the dike, and as they retreated we poured fire into them, and then I called in artillery fire. We destroyed those two companies.Funny that after writing about military folks' demand for high degree of accuracy and low tolerance for spin I find proof that it's nothing new. They didn't need milbloggers in Ernie Pyle's day, but there's an example of the same motivation.
I remember when I was interviewed for the movie, I told one of the writers that as I shot the German, he looked up at me and smiled. Well, I kept going with my story, but later, as it turns out, the writer wanted to play up the thing about the smile. He wanted to play that up as a flashback, the type of bad flashbacks you can have. I have flashbacks every day. But the writer wanted to play up that point. And that is why in the series that German is portrayed as a kid and why later on when I am in Paris they portray me looking at this kid on the train and having another flashback. It's stupid, but I didn't get the chance to review the scenes.
That's not his main point though. Read the whole thing - an American hero, a living definition of leadership, explaining leadership.
Great post. Coincidentally, I happened to watch that episode of BofB last night. I was thinking that whole flashback thing with the kid on the train was contrived, so it is nice to hear the real story from Mr. Winters.Posted by John McCrarey at April 20, 2005 10:30 PM
I wish I had Winter's address to write him a letter of appreciation. I did write Bill Guarnere via his website and got a personal response from him.Posted by Impacted Wisdom Truth at April 21, 2005 01:25 AM
I use that scene in my class at Fort Leavenworth. I walked that field in Holland on 1 October, 2002, the day I was promoted to Lt. Col. That was a long run, about 300m. I'm surprised the enemy couldn't hear their brass ones clanging like church bells...Posted by Pedantius at April 21, 2005 07:24 AM
My father was 101st,506th,PIR,duringWWII. Some of what I read and saw in Band of Brothers I remember my father telling me. I have the utmost respect for Major Winters and the "Brothers". Thank you for the website.Posted by rosemarie kelleher at May 18, 2005 11:18 PM
With a couple of friends w've founded years ago a re-enactment group "BAR" which is present at get togethers and memorial event's in Holland, (Son Eindhoven area) and through the years it comes very clear that in the future it will be even more important to KEEP HISTORY ALIVE !! We owe the men who liberated us. Airborne all the Way!!Posted by Vince Wilke at May 26, 2005 09:31 PM
Being a 9/11 survivor brought me just a tiny bit closer to what Major Winters and the men of Easy Company went through...and I mean a millimeter closer....that's it. I had great difficulty dealing with what I went through that day. One of the things that helped me was watching Band of Brothers, especially the calm special pride that Dick Winters had in his men and his service. All of the men that participated in the show was proof to me that I'll be able to deal with my demons from that horrible day in September 2001. I thank Major Winters and his Men for this gift and so does my Wife of 20 years and my 5 Children. Thanks Easy !!! Thanks Major Winters !Posted by Christopher Coyle at June 1, 2005 03:28 PM
I'm only 12 years old and have many family memebers in my family in the armed forces. With the events past 9/11 i have been watching many more shows on fight on terrorism, and have allways been interested in WWII. One day in a local video rental store my stepfather pointed out the Band of Brothers Mini-series for my enjoyment of learning WWII. This year on my birthday my mom bought me the Band of Brothers book and I have read it atleast 3 times and memorised it. I have been trying to locate how to get in touch with Maj. Winters and several other Easy men. I loved the site for it reminds me so much of my grandfater who went into training in 1963 and luckily never went to war. Although it is nearly 20 years past World War II he has influenced me so greatly on learning about Vietnam and WWII. And for my step-grandfather being a colnol in army has also influenced me for his father was in WWII. I honestly forget where or when. But the acts of Major Richard Winters and all the men of easy company on eve of June 6, 1944 has touched my heart deeply.Posted by Mark Stoner at September 20, 2005 08:17 PM
=TO WHO IT MAY CONCERN=
As you can see in the comment posted by Gitarcarver he is metioning the mail addresd of Mr. Winters as it was shown on the website of MajorDickWinters.com. Last summer the address was taken away on request of the family of Mr. Winters. The current health status of Mr.Winters is described as "fragile" and he is not in the position anymore to reply to any letters.
Out of respect and on request of the family of Mr.Winters, please don't send anymore letters or books to sign to this mail address.
Thanks for your cooperation.
RemkoPosted by Remko at December 2, 2005 09:17 AM
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Major Winters for writing to me last year.I really treasure the letter and will always learn his military leadership that touched all men.
Good health to you Major!!!
Airborne all the way Major Winters!!!
Posted by David Low at January 7, 2006 03:32 PM
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Sgt David Low
Singapore Recce Combat Engr.