SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT, France — With World War II-era military planes darting overhead and Normandy's Utah Beach visible in the distance, a bronze statue emerged from beneath a camouflage parachute, in tribute to a man whose quiet leadership was chronicled in the book and television series Band of Brothers.
The unveiling of the statue of Maj. Dick Winters was one of many events marking Wednesday's 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied operation that paved the way for the end of the war.
The 12-foot-tall bronze statue in the Normandy village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont shows Winters with his weapon at the ready. But Winters — a native of Ephrata, Pa., who died last year at age 92 — only accepted serving as the statue's likeness after monument planners agreed to dedicate it to the memory of all junior U.S. military officers who served that day.
"There were many Dick Winters in this war, and all deserve the bronze and glory of a statue," said former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
Also attending were D-Day veterans, including two who served in Winters' "Easy Company," Al Mampre and Herb Suerth Jr.
Winters "was a humble, simple person thrust into a position of leadership in which he excelled," said Suerth.
The statue was made in Loveland, Colo., and transported here.
It was here that Winters and his small band of men dropped out of the sky on June 6, 1944, on a mission to destroy four German 105mm artillery guns that threatened the Allied invasion force.
Master Sgt. Frank Barnett, 37, a paratrooper from Anniston, Ala., serving at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, attended the ceremony with other members of the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing.
"It's important for us on the airborne side to remember everything they did," Barnett said. "They are the greatest generation."