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Recent Loss of a Role Model

January 18, 2011 | Major Chris Besser

Recently we lost a great Soldier from our ranks. Though I have only read about him, I believe he was one of models for junior leaders. I originally read about this leader when I was attending the United States Airborne School. He was one of the focal characters of the book that I was reading and throughout it all, he continued to exemplify the leadership techniques and attributes that I believe is the core to any great leader. This core attribute is that of caring, and this great leader is Major (Ret) Dick Winters.
MAJ (Ret) Winters was synonymous with Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) in the events and days leading up to D-Day and through the end of World War II in Europe. His great leadership and those who he led were immortalized in Steven Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers”. Everything about MAJ (Ret) Winters literary portrayal connected in the same way to which I believe leaders should be and how they should be with their troops. With his caring, everything else came second nature. Such second nature items included continuing to improve the unit and ones self both personally and militarily, leading from the front, and taking care of Soldiers first and foremost. I believe that Major (Ret) Dick Winter’s leadership philosophy and justification for being a great leader is best conveyed from a quote found in his war memoirs and within the book “Band of Brothers” and the movie. This quote from Major (Ret) Winters in 1943 is as follows:
“An officer should never put himself in a position where he takes anything from the men. Never abuse them by act or omission. As a commander, a leader must be prepared to give everything, including himself, to the people he leads. You give your time and you strive to be consistently fair, never demonstrating favoritism.”

Major (Ret) Dick Winters is a true leader who valued his Soldiers first and foremost. This dedication to mission and is a direct result of his caring for not only the people he led but for what he did. Without the core component of caring, I do not believe that neither MAJ (Ret) Winters nor any other leader could do what they do let alone be successful at it. His dedication was evident through the time he spent with the Soldiers and community of Fort Campbell, KY even up to his recent passing. It is a great loss for his family, friends and military, but he will continue his service to the nation by inspiring future leaders.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this website are those of the writer (currently an ILE student) or the Department of Defense employee and not those of the Department of Defense or its components.

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