Band of Brothers, the acclaimed mini-series from HBO, is go-to favourite in my Blu-Ray collection. 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, providing an all too realistic angle to the horrors of war.
Amongst the other veterans of Easy Company, Major Richard Dick Winters was the fearless leader that did his best to bring his men home safe.
Last week, on January 2, 2011, Maj. Winters died at age 92, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
As commander of E Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Winters and his company proved instrumental on D-Day in ensuring the successful American landings at Utah and Omaha beaches. He would later lead his paratroopers through the forests of France, Belgium and Holland before ending his war in Hitler’s alpine retreat.
I’m not generally a fan of TV mini-series, but if you haven’t watched Band of Brothers (or its follow up, The Pacific), you’re missing an excellent piece of television genius.
The Band of Brothers miniseries details, if at times exaggerated or condensed, the real-life exploits of Easy Company during the Second World War over the course of ten episodes, starting with their jump training at the Currahee training site in Toccoa, Georgia and ending with the capitulation of Germany. The experiences of Major Richard Winters (1918–2011) are a primary focus, as he attempts to keep his men together and safe. While the series stars a large ensemble cast, episodes generally feature one character prominently, following their particular actions during certain events (for example, the Siege of Bastogne and Operation Market Garden).
As the series is based on real-life events, the fate of the characters is the same as their real world counterparts. Numerous characters either die or sustain injuries, some of which lead to them being sent home or leaving the hospital to rejoin their comrades at the battlefront. The experiences and the moral, mental, and physical hurdles the soldiers must overcome are central to the story.