Richard “Dick” Winters, a decorated hero of World War II and the central figure in the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died. He would have turned 93 years old in February. Winters died January 2 following a several-year battle with Parkinson’s disease,and was buried after a private funeral Saturday, according to retired Army Col. Cole Kingseed, a close friend and co-author of Winters’ memoirs.
An intensely private and humble man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral, Jackson said. Winters lived in Hershey, Pa., but died in suburban Palmyra.
A member of the unit living in Philadelphia, Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Winters brought a tear to his eye.
“He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under,” said Heffron, who had the nickname “Babe” in the company. “He was a wonderful officer, a wonderful leader. He had what you needed, guts and brains. He took care of his men, that’s very important.”
Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.
During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. In September 1944, he led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers. Occupying the Bastogne area of Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his men held their place until the Third Army broke through enemy lines, and Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.
Actor Damian Lewis, who portrayed Winters in the series ‘Band of Brothers’, told CNN that Winters’ support for him during the production was “generous and unstinting. I’ll never forget his rallying cry to me to ‘hang tough!’
“He has died quietly, in private, without fanfare and with the same modesty that he lived his life as one of the true heroes of his generation,” Lewis added.
Winters did not make any money off his memoirs or the speeches he gave later in his life. His royalties from the book went to a variety of organizations, including veterans groups, breast-cancer research organizations and the Ronald McDonald house in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he lived for years.
His family is planning a public memorial service for Winters in the near future.
In the meantime, his family is asking that in remembrance of Winters, donations can be sent to any veterans hospital.
Winters is survived by his wife, Ethel, and a son, a daughter and a grandson.