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Major Richard D. Winters (ret)

Major Richard Winters was the third commanding officer (CO) of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. While initially serving as a platoon leader of Easy as a 2nd Lieutenant, he gained the mutual respect and the trust of the men who later be part of one of the largest invasions known to mankind.

Colonel Sink, who was the first and only CO of the 506th Regiment, promoted Winters to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and the 1st CO of Easy, Captain Herbert M. Sobel, made Winters the executive officer (XO) of Easy.

When the airborne troops finished jump school and were shipped to England, they prepared for the big invasion of Fortess Europe. Sobel was promoted and transferred to a jump school for civilians (chaplains, priests, doctors, etc.) called Chilton Foliat. Lieutenant Meehan from Baker Company took over as CO of Easy Company. He would remain CO until his plane was shot down during the invasion.


When D-Day came, the paratroopers dropped deep into Normandy under enemy territory. Their objectives were to secure a series of causeways, or roads, that linked to the beaches of Normandy, where the regular US Infantry would make their assault on Utah and Omaha beach. The Germans flooded the fields inland, so securing those causeways was the only option.

Easy Company's objective was to secure Causeway #2, which linked to Utah Beach. However, during the drop, the planes, desperate to evade the incoming flak from German anti-aircraft guns, dropped troops far from the designated drop zone (DZ). Lieutenant Meehan's plane, which also included E Company's First Sergeant, William Evans, was shot down during the invasion. Lieutenant Winters lost his weapon, which was located in his leg bag, when the bag was torn off from the tether that it was attached to.

Prior to the main invasion, the 2nd Battalion of the 506th, which consisted of Dog, Easy, and Fox Company, set up headquarters near a secured farmhouse. Intelligence reported that 4 German 105mm artillery cannons were aimed and firing at Utah Beach, where the 4th Infantry Division was making their assault. Easy Company was ordered to eliminate those cannons, which were causing massive damage to the beach area.

90 % of Easy Company was still unaccounted for at that time. Lieutenant Winters had no choice but to do his best given the circumstances. He ordered machine guns to create an enveloping fire on the guns, while another squad, led by Lieutenant Lynn "Buck" Compton, took the left flank and tossed grenades into the trench where the first gun was. Sergeant Lipton and PFC Myron Ranney took the right flank. This base-of-fire technique would become a textbook case for assault on a fixed position, and is still taught at West Point Academy today.

When the Germans at the first gun were eliminated, Easy Company began their main assault on the trenches. They spiked the guns with TNT and completed their objective with the aid of Dog Company, led by Lt. Ronald Speirs, who would later become the last CO of Easy Company.

Lt. Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross for taking out those artillery pieces. However, many believe that he deserved the Congressional Medal of Honor because of the importance of this assault.

 



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MDW website version III created by Matt Boardman
Copyright   2003-2008 This website is authorized by Major Dick Winters (ret).  This is the ONLY Official Major Dick Winters website.