“We Were A Band of Brothers” by John Shaw
13 Easy Company 101st Signatures
number 12 of 850
At 2030 on the night of 5 June 1944, under an overcast sky, the 139 men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne, left their encampment at Uppottery Airfield in England, and marched for the C-47s that would carry them to France, and open the invasion of Europe. The C-47s of the 439th Troop Carrier Group, 50th Troop Carrier Wing were capable of hauling over three tons of cargo, or 18 fully loaded paratroopers.
One of Easy Company's most capable officers and a leader of the company since its formation in Toccoa, Georgia was 1st Lt. Richard Winters, from the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania. He had enlisted in the Army after college, volunteered for the paratroopers, and risen to become the company's second ranking officer. At 26 years of age, Winters commanded the company's 1st Platoon. Winters is standing bareheaded in the center of his platoon, holding a letter from Col. Robert Sink, which states in part " tonight is the Night of Nights". At 2225 the paratroopers climbed aboard, and at 2313, they were airborne.
13,000 paratroopers were carried to France that night, in 821 aircraft. Although chaos erupted, it was as confusing for the Germans as for the jumpers. Only 21 C-47s were lost to enemy fire, but the Company Commander Meehan was killed in a C-47 that went down, so on D-Day Winters assumed command of Easy Company, and they would spend the next 23 days in the combat zone. Dick Winters led the men of Easy Company across Europe until the end of the War.