Mr. Winters, who separated from the Army at the rank of major, and his men fought together through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge and later occupied Adolf Hitler’s mountainside retreat, the Eagle’s Nest, near Berchtesgaden.
A charismatic officer who led by example, Mr. Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross, the country’s second highest decoration for valor, while conducting combat operations on D-Day.
Mr. Winters led a small group of men on a raid of German cannon emplacements near Utah beach on Normandy’s coastline.
While taking out the heavily fortified bunker, Mr. Winters and his men killed 15 German soldiers and took 12 more as prisoners, helping to save countless American lives from the withering cannon fire.
Later in the war, one of Mr. Winters’s soldiers, Floyd Talbert, wrote a letter to the officer from a hospital in Indiana expressing gratitude for his loyalty and leadership.
“You are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you,” Talbert wrote to Mr. Winters in 1945. “I would follow you into hell.”
There’s a part in the miniseries HBO made about Easy Company that never fails to make me cry like a little girl with a skinned knee, and it’s where Winters talks about the war being over. Everybody else is making grand plans for their lives, and he says he’s just gonna find a spot to settle and live in peace for the rest of his life.