As we reel from the recent events in Arizona, another event gives me pause.
Richard “Dick” Winters, one time commander of Easy Company of “Band of Brothers” fame (where he was played by Damien Lewis), died on 2 January 2011.
So much has been written about Colonel Winters and his men I wouldn’t know where to start…DSC, Bronze Star, Purple heart, a man whose assault at Brecourt Manor on D-Day is still taught at West Point, and never lost the affection and respect of those he commanded, and returned the same…and yet who never gloried in warfare.
I think it is fair to say he is true and full example of that “Greatest Generation” that left the farms, towns, and cities of America to defeat totalitarianism.
But perhaps an observation of his view on leadership for an August 2004 article in American History Magazine captures the man:
“If you can,” he wrote, “find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know that you are honest and you are fair and will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down”.
When people asked whether he was a hero, he echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney: “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”
Damn. We could use more men like him today.
Rest in Peace, Dick Winters