witf to provide coverage of Dick Winters monument unveiling in Normandy

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | May 14, 2012 5:06 AM

(Undated) -- The late Major Dick Winters will be immortalized in Normandy, France, on the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and witf will be there. On June 6th, the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument will be unveiled in Sainte Marie-du-Mont near Utah Beach. It features a likeness of Winters moving forward in an attack position. The monument will be dedicated to all junior U.S. military officers who served on June 6, 1944. It would include those who held the rank of second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain. 

The words "Leadership 6-6-1944" and a Winters' quote, "Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men," will be inscribed on the foundation of the statue. The project is being undertaken by the World War Two Foundation. The $400,000 effort has received the blessing of the Winters himself on the condition the statue not just represent the major.

witf will have the unique opportunity to cover the events surrounding the unveiling and those marking the anniversary of the largest invasion force in history through the multimedia project, “Hang Tough: Dick Winters in Normandy.” Multimedia News Director Tim Lambert will spend six days in Normandy, from June 3rd through June 8th. He will cover how Major Winters’ is remembered and honored in Normandy.

Winters’ exploits have gained worldwide attention, due to the immense popularity of Stephen Ambrose’s book, “Band of Brothers,” and the HBO mini-series of the same name. Winters  (1918-2011)  was born in Ephrata, Lancaster County and after the Second World War, lived in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, and Derry Township, Dauphin County.  On D-Day, he jumped into Normandy with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. He took command of E Company later that day, when his commanding officer, First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan, was killed when his plane was shot down.

witf will also be traveling with 13-year-old Jordan Brown of South Lebanon, Lebanon County. Jordan and his family have been invited to the monument unveiling, since the teenager has played an integral fundraising role for project. In the last two years, he’s raised more than $93,000 by selling wristbands with Winters’ famous motto “Hang Tough” on them.  He hopes to raise another $7,000 before June. Jordan will also present a speech at the June 6th ceremony. witf plans to tell the story of the unveiling through Brown's eyes by using photos, video and audio stories.

Lambert will be filing stories and discussing the trip on witf’s Morning Edition, Radio Smart Talk and All Things Considered. He’ll use social media to give witf listeners an inside look at not only the statue unveiling, but also how the story of the invasion is told nearly seven decades later. Listeners can follow @witfnews on Twitter (look for the hashtags #BoB and #dickwinters) and check out witf’s Facebook and Google+ pages. Plus, they can subscribe to Lambert’s Facebook and Google+ pages. 

“I see this as a wonderful opportunity to explore first-hand how much of an impact Major Winters has had on people around the globe and how much respect they hold for him,” Lambert said. “Plus, Jordan’s story is special in it’s own right. He started raising money when he was 11 and now, he gets to take part in a unique and historic event.”

On June 6, 1944, Winters led an assault at Brecourt Manor to knock out a battery of 105 mm German howitzers that were firing on one of the principal exits for U.S. troops on Utah Beach. It was done with 13 men against an estimated 50 German troops. The assault is still taught at West Point today as an example of how to conduct an attack on a fixed position. The attack also allowed Winters to recover a number of maps detailing German gun emplacements around Utah Beach. Historians have asserted by silencing the German guns, the lives of hundreds of soldiers landing on the beach were likely saved. For his efforts, Winters received the nation's second highest military honor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

Winters went on to to fight in Operation Market Garden in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and the Rhine. He also took part in the capture of Berchtesgaden (Hitler's Eagle's Nest). By the end of World War II, he had risen to the rank of major and commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 506th PIR.

Tim Lambert speaks with witf Morning Edition Host Craig Layne about his upcoming trip:

Want to follow Tim Lambert's coverage of the unveiling of the Major Dick Winters statue in Normandy? Subscribe to him on Facebook or add him to your circles on Google+.

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