Dick Winters: Reflections on the Band of Brothers, D-Day and Leadership
After his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1945, Major Richard Winters returned to civilian life. He worked for a while for Nixon Nitration Works, the family firm of his wartime friend Louis Nixon. Following a brief tour of duty during the Korean War, he returned to Hershey, Pa., embarked on a successful business career, raised a family and lived the quiet life he had promised himself after his first day in combat on June 6, 1944. In 1992 this solitude was interrupted with the publication of historian Stephen E. Ambrose's best-selling book Band of Brothers, which brought the World War II story of Dick Winters and Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division -- which he had commanded from Normandy to Berchtesgaden -- to the public's attention. The spotlight intensified exponentially when Hollywood's Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks teamed up to bring Winters' story to tens of millions in the highly acclaimed, Emmy-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. This mass exposure transformed Winters and his comrades into cultural icons for generations far removed from World War II. They have become the embodiment of millions of American servicemen who marched off to war as ordinary men but achieved extraordinary things.
Faced with his newfound fame, Winters seized the opportunity to continue to lead and instill in others the lessons about leadership he learned in the life and death crucible of war. It was Ambrose who, after chronicling Winters' story, impressed upon him that his leadership ethics could inspire all generations.