Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
By Major Dick Winters with Colonel Cole. C. Kingseed
Hardcover in dustjacket, 292 pages, photographs, and index
Published by Penguin, 2006
Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.1 x 1.2 inches
Dick Winters was an officer of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment which was part of the 101th Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles”. On the night of 06 June 1944 he was the leader of 1st Platoon of East Company. The C-47 carrying the Company’s command element was shot down by German flak over Normandy. All aboard were killed, leaving Winters as acting commander of Easy Company. On the first day Winters led an assault on a battery of four German howitzers which were shelling American troops on Utah Beach. Even though outnumbered four to one, the American assault was successful. Winters was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for the action, the U.S. Army’s second highest award.
The second combat jump for the 506th PIR was into Holland in September as a part of Operation Market Garden. By now Winters had been promoted to Captain and was officially in command of Easy Company. Again Winters led an assault against a superior enemy force, using a Platoon to route what was later discovered to be two Germany Companies.
The 101st Airborne was rushed to stem the German assault in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. The paratroopers were rushed into the line in Belgium by truck, with no time to draw proper cold weather gear or extra ammunition. Constant attrition resulted in Winters being assigned first to the Executive Officer position of 2nd Battalion then as it’s Commander.
Beyond Band of Brothers is an autobiographical account of Winter’s service in the Army, from his enlistment before the war, through training and combat, and his eventual discharge from service. His story will be familiar to most as he was featured prominently in Steven Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers and the HBO miniseries of the same name. The story is worth telling in Winter’s own words and gives several insights from his perspective. I was surprised to see Winters give considerable credit to Captain Sobel’s contributions to the 506th PIR and Easy Company in particular during training, despite the obvious conflict between the two men. Highly recommended as a companion work to Band of Brothers and a very interesting read in its own right.