Franklin & Marshall College President Daniel R. Porterfield will join in honoring Lancaster County native and F&M alumnus Maj. Dick Winters during a ceremony June 6 in Normandy to dedicate a statue in Winters' image. The World War II Foundation will unveil the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument in honor of the junior U.S. military officers who served during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
Porterfield will offer comments in Winters' honor during a ceremony in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, France.
"No other alumnus of Franklin & Marshall College has demonstrated greater heroism in the service of our country and our ideals," Porterfield said. "Maj. Dick Winters represents a standard of service, dedication and humility that we hope our students will emulate. In recognition of the model of excellence he set, the College will announce the Major Dick Winters '41 Award for Perseverance & Leadership."
Winters graduated in the Class of 1941 and also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College in absentia in 2009.
One aspect of Maj. Winters' incredible narrative of courage and heroism that should be remembered for decades is the strength of character and fortitude demonstrated by the company of young men led by Winters, Porterfield said. A business major at F&M, Winters graduated just a few years before the events that will be forever memorialized by the new monument.
The monument will be a 12-foot bronze statue of Winters in a battle stance, symbolizing his leadership in key military operations against German troops that helped turn the tide of the war.
"When he was interviewed for 'Franklin & Marshall Magazine' some years ago, Maj. Winters was humble as he talked about leadership," Porterfield said. "He described leadership in simple terms: 'It's something you have within you that gets the job done.'"
Winters led a band of 13 men behind enemy lines in Normandy on D-Day as the commander of E "Easy" Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He and his men destroyed a battery of German artillery that had been firing on Utah Beach, making it easier for Allied forces to move inland. He was honored with the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army's second-highest award for valor.
Winters' leadership became the central focus of the 1992 book "Band of Brothers" by author Stephen Ambrose, which was later adapted into the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries of the same title. Winters died Jan. 2, 2011, at the age of 92.
The independent public broadcast station WITF radio will report from France as part of its Hang Tough: Dick Winters in Normandy project.