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Dick Winters

“In an attempt to escape the tension that combat caused, I developed a heavier than usual exercise regimen and I attended church on a regular basis. There were only a few days that I didn’t run two to three miles, do eighty push-ups, sixty sit ups on a foot locker, a couple of splits, and some leg and trunk exercises after the day’s work was over. As a result I kept in pretty good shape — not what I’d call wrestling shape, but good enough for army work. Physical activity kept me mentally alert, built up my endurance, and kept me supple.

Another thing I noted about being overseas and away from home was that I found myself not giving a damn about trivial things. Maybe I was spoiled. If I received mail, good, but it didn’t bother me one way or another if I didn’t. The only value about receiving mail is that it temporarily took my mind off my work and back to the land I dreamed of all the time… On Sundays, I prepared for church, buttons shined, boots polished, and ribbons in neat rows on my tunic. I considered it a very special privilege to be able to go to church and I didn’t want to miss the chance. If combat had taught me anything, it taught me what was essential in life and what wasn’t. In my prayers before D-Day, I had always thanked God for what He had done for the world in general and asked that others would be given a break in the future. I had also thanked Him for a lot of things that I now found to be insignificant. The only thing I asked for now was to be alive tomorrow morning and to survive another day. That was all that mattered — that was the only thing as far as wanting anything for myself. All other things had become extra, nonessential, and I could not be bothered or burdened with nonessentials. Not when battle was the payoff. […]

Evening allowed a few minutes of quiet reflection… The Germans were evidently not as tired as we were because they fired their machine guns all night and hollered like a bunch of drunken kids having a party. Before I dozed off, I did not forget to get on my knees and thank God for helping me to live through this day and ask His help on D+1. I would live this war one day at a time, and I promised myself that if I survived, I would find a small farm somewhere in the Pennsylvania countryside and spend the remainder of my life in quiet and peace.”


Pulled from Dick Winters’s war memoirs Beyond Band of Brothers. Winters parachuted into Normandy on D-Day as the commander of Easy Company, as shown in the HBO series Band of Brothers.