Major Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne gained international acclaim when the tale of he and his men were depicted in the celebrated book and miniseries Band of Brothers. Hoisted as a modest hero who spurned adulation, Winters epitomized the notion of dignified leadership. His iconic World War II exploits have since been depicted in art and commemorated with monuments.
Beneath this marble image of a reserved officer is the story of a common Pennsylvanian tested by the daily trials and tribulations of military duty. His wartime correspondence with pen pal and naval reservist, DeEtta Almon, paints an endearing portrait of life on both the home front and battlefront—capturing the humor, horror, and humility that defined a generation. Interwoven with previously unpublished diary entries, military reports, postwar reminiscences, private photos, personal artifacts, and rich historical context, Winters’s letters offer compelling insights on the individual costs and motivations of World War II service members.
Winters’s heartfelt prose reveals his mindset of the moment. From stateside training to the hedgerows of Normandy, his correspondence immerses readers in the dramatic experiences of the 1940s. Via the lost art of letter writing, the immediacy and honesty of Winters’s observations takes us beyond the traditional accounts of the fabled 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s Easy Company. This engaging narrative offers a unique blend of personal wit, leadership ethics, and broader observations of a world at war. Hang Tough is a deeply intimate, timely reflection on a rising officer and the philosophies that molded him into a hero among heroes.
Hang Tough “will help people better understand the man I knew and respected so much. Folks should know what we all went through during the war.” —Bradford Freeman, Foreword
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About the Author
Erik Dorr is the owner of the Gettysburg Museum of History—a structure that witnessed the famous 1863 battle. At an early age, Erik began collecting historical relics from throughout history. This broad range of artifacts has grown into one of the finest privately-owned collections in the United States. Among the treasures in the museum is the largest assortment of Major Dick Winters and Easy Company artifacts in the world. In his wide array of historical adventures, Dorr has led European battlefield tours and has appeared on the History Channel, Syfy, and the Smithsonian Channel. Learn more at www.gettysburgmuseumofhistory.com.
Table of Contents
A Note from the Editors xi
Foreword Bradford Freeman Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division World War II xvii
Introduction to the Letters By Richard D. Winters 1996 1
Chapter 1 That Lucky Yankee Beginnings to December 1941 5
Chapter 2 Respect and Authority January 1942 to January 1943 32
Chapter 3 Worse Than Battle February 1943 to May 1944 70
Chapter 4 Hot as a Baked Potato June to August 1944 101
Chapter 5 No Time to Mourn September to November 1944 140
Chapter 6 It's All Luck December 1944 to April 1945 164
Chapter 7 Victory is Ours May to July 1945 196
Chapter 8 To Go Home July 1945 and Onward 222
Bibliography of Histories and Memoirs 245
Photo Collections and Credits 251