Band Of Brothers 3 Leadership Attributes
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Dick Winters is the primary character of the book. At Easy Companys inception, Winters began as 2nd Lieutenant. When the company made its initial parachute jump into Normandy, Winters became Easy's de facto commanding officer. Eventually, he was appointed as the official commanding officer of the company, but was quickly promoted. By the end of Easy Company's three-year tour, Winters was promoted to the rank of Major.
The soldiers respected Winters and trusted his leadership. Winters did not like to sit back and bark orders. Instead, Winters led his men into battle, fighting alongside them. As a leader, Winters was humble and fair. As a group, the men of Easy Company endured more stress at the front lines than can be imagined. The soldiers were volunteers, and the men fought bravely for their country in a company with more than a 150 percent casualty rate. At Bastogne, when other soldiers fled, Easy Company raced forward to continue the fight. During the siege at Bastogne, the soldiers of Easy Company prevailed over an enemy that had access to superior equipment.
Winters' primary adversary in the book was Easy's first commanding officer, Captain Herbert Sobel. Unlike Sobel, Winters was universally liked by the men. Winters was not arrogant and did not seek medals. Unlike many military men, he did not gamble or drink alcohol. Winters was described as being worshiped and held in high regard due to his kind nature, high expectations and leadership skills when leading the men into combat. Winters demonstrated his uncanny ability to make decisions in the field from Easy Company's first jump into Normandy. Although the men landed outside of their planned landing zone, Winters collected the men he could find and led them toward the designated rally point. Winters was then ordered to lead twelve men into a German garrison and disarm four enemy machine guns. Winters was successful. Subsequent success on the battle field led to several military promotions. When he was no longer Easy Company's direct commander, he took special interest in the company by closely following its engagements during the war. At the end of the campaign, Winters was with Easy Company when the men invaded Hitler's Eagle's Nest. After the war, Winters continued to stay in touch with the men of Easy Company.
Winters reached his breaking point when Sobel presented Winters with an unmerited reprimand. As a display of principle, Winters chose the harsher punishment by court marshal. When Sobel continued to attack Winters with unfounded reprimands, Winters did not fight back. Instead, he disagreed but respected Sobel's authority as commanding officer and submitted to Sobel's higher rank. Strayer attempted to diffuse the situation by transferring Winters to the insulting position of mess officer.
Winters continued to display honorable characteristics by not leveraging his popularity with the men to oust Sobel. In fact, Winters convinced the men to abandon their plan of approaching Major Strayer with an ultimatum to remove Sobel from command. In the end, Winters received justice by receiving command of the 1st platoon and seeing Sobel transferred out of Easy Company.
When Winters landed, he lost his leg bag but quickly found Sergeant Lipton. Winters gathered several men landing in the area, including men from outsider of his unit. The group successfully ambushed a German patrol. Over the course of the evening, Winters's group joined forces with over eighty men and headed toward Ste. Marie-du-Mont, the rally point. Winters was ordered to terminate a battery of German machine guns near Ste. Marie-du-Mont. Winters ordered his men to attack from the front with American machine gun fire covering their position from two directions. The men worked as a team, synchronizing their maneuvers. Winters led the frontal assault while the machine gunners provided support. The Germans at the first gun post quickly fled. The American pursued, killing as many Germans as they could.
Winters and his men continued their siege and took control of the second German gun. Later, Lieutenant Ronald Speirs of D Company arrived with five men. Speirs led the final assault on the third and final German gun in the battery. The operation of eliminating the German battery contributed to the success of the beach invasion, as the location looked directly down upon Utah beach. Winters later received the Silver Star for his action, and other members of his group received commendations.
In chapter five, Winters comes to the forefront of the story as a natural leader. As soon as he landed on the ground, he demonstrated his command by ordering a nearby trooper to follow him. He also took it upon himself to gather as many men as possible. Later, he quickly devised a plan to assault a heavily-armed German battery with few lives lost. Winters once again showed humility by crediting the military for its training for his success. The chapter also details how the men reacted in their first combat situation. The circumstances were far from ideal, with the men scattered and intermixed with other units, and no knowledge of where they were located. Some men, such as Lipton and Guarnere, reflect that some of their actions were rash and they would not have taken those same risks as seasoned soldiers. The men entered the battlefield well-trained, but also gained valuable combat experience in the field.
The theme of brotherhood bonds and courage in military action continues in the sixth chapter. In the second major conflict led by Winters, the men of Easy Company worked as a team to secure Carentan, an important staging area for American troops. The men had witnessed enough war at this point to fear death. Their mission was to take over a machine gun by running directly into the line of fire. At first, the men were frozen in the ditch as bullets sprayed above their heads. But Winters motivated them to carry out the plan. Most importantly, the men overcame their fears. The soldiers moved out together and successfully overtook the German machine gun. German soldiers began shooting mortar shells in defense.
Easy Company troops engaged the enemy while assisting injured comrades. Those who were injured wanted to keep fighting, even with broken legs and head wounds. The soldiers had tight bonds of trust and would rather continue fighting alongside their brothers in arms than return to England. Another example of trust and courage among the men occurred when a German tank approached Easy Company during a German counterattack. Two other companies fell back and abandoned Easy Company. Easy Company held its ground, even under mortar attack. Welsh and Private John McGrath ran onto an open field at great danger to themselves and used a bazooka to incapacitate the tank. Winters continued to lead Easy Company with success. He accepted accolades for his success but inquired about medals for his men. Winters did not seek medals out of conceit, but felt that the men under his command should also be recognized.
The men encountered an enemy machine gun and eradicated it. Winters then led the men across a field, up to the road. On the opposite side of the road, over one hundred German troops were sitting to rest. The German soldiers were facing away from Winters. Winters and his platoon fired on the unprepared Germans soldiers. The Germans fled. Easy Company pursued, and discovered the second German company that had already penetrated the front line. Easy Company continued to fight, but the Germans had to pass Easy Company's line to escape. The German soldiers fought desperately, and Winters ordered his men to fall back. The platoon of thirty-five men pushed back two companies of about three hundred Germans. Winters rationalized that the Germans were ill-prepared and his men were superior in infantry tactics and physical fitness.
Ambrose gave credit to Winters' excellent decision-making skills. Colonel Sink recognized Winters' s contributions and promoted Winters to Executive Officer (X.O.) of 2nd Battalion, just three months after Sink promoted Winters to captain
The scene at Bastogne was the definitive moment for Easy Company. While other soldiers fled the battlefield in fear, Easy Company marched forward to take its position. The men were looking forward to a quiet Christmas in Mourmelon, but that dream would not come to fruition. Instead, they marched in the cold with little ammunition and no weather gear to a place where other trained soldiers panicked and retreated. The scene of Easy Company striding forward where others would not dare is a primary example of Easy Company's bravery and heroism.
The siege at Bastogne would prove to be a true test of will for Easy Company. The harsh conditions and constant assignment to the front lines made the men weary and susceptible to breaking under the stress. Still, the soldiers persevered. When surrounded by enemy troops and cut off from supplies, the men did not sink into despair, give up and surrender. Instead, Easy Company literally dug in for the fight. Huddled together in foxholes for warmth, the men supported one another physically and emotionally. If a man was injured, the medic would rush to the soldier's aid, and his friends would assist the injured soldier the best they could. Easy Company's bonds of brotherhood solidified on the icy battlefield in Bastogne. It was, by far, their most arduous fight.
"They hadn't come here to fear. They hadn't come here to die. They had come to win."
"He provided not only brains but personal leadership. 'Follow me' was his code. He personally killed more Germans and took more risks than anyone else."
"'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?'
"'No,' I answered, 'but I served in a company of heroes.'"
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