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Richard 'Dick' Winters, 'Band of Brothers' inspiration, dies at 92

January 10, 2011 |  2:16 pm

Richard 'Dick' Winters of Easy Company, Band of Brothers Retired Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters, a World War II veteran made famous by the miniseries "Band of Brothers," died last week in Pennsylvania at 92 after a years-long battle with Parkinson's disease.

The leader of the Army 101st Airborne division's Easy Company was among those Stephen Ambrose talked to for his 1992 book "Band of Brothers," which Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg brought to the HBO small screen in 2001. In addition to dramatizations of Easy Company's exploits, including the invasion of Normandy, the miniseries featured documentary interviews with the company's surviving veterans, Winters among them.

"He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under," said Edward Heffron, 87, who had the nickname "Babe" in the company, and said thinking about Dick Winters brought a tear to his eye.

"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." Heffron was portrayed by actor Robin Laing.

Winters was portrayed in the 2001 miniseries by British actor Damian Lewis, who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the role.

Damian Lewis as Richard Winters in Band of Brothers "Band of Brothers" actor Scott Grimes shouted out on Monday: "Love you major dick winters!! You changed many lives!!"

When people asked whether he was a hero, Winters echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney (played by Stephen Graham): "No, but I served in a company of heroes."

Winters asked that news of his Jan. 2 death be kept private until after his funeral. Read a full obituary here.


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-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: (top) A December 1945 photo of retired Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters, who died Jan. 2. Credit: Courtesy of retired Sgt. Maj. Herman W. Clemens

(bottom) Damian Lewis, left, and David Schwimmer as Winters and Herbert M. Sobel in "Band of Brothers." Credit: David James / HBO