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Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks Pay Tribute to 'Band of Brothers' Inspiration

Major Dick Winters

Producers of World War II series mark the passing of Dick Winters.

Steven Spielberg said that Richard "Dick" Winters, who died last week, personified the generation of Americans who selflessly fought and died for their country in World War II.

“Dick Winters was at the vanguard of representing ‘The Greatest Generation,' “ Spielberg said in a statement.

But the co-producer of the 2001 HBO series Band of Brothers insisted that Winters, who served as the inspiration for the real-life tale, did not seek honors.

"He would not have wanted this credit," said Spielberg. "He would have simply asked all of us to never forget how his generation served this nation and the world in WWII."

Winters died following a long battle with Parkinson's disease last week. He became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.

Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Winters for the 1992 book Band of Brothers, upon which the 10-part HBO miniseries was based.  The series, co-produced by Tom Hanks and Spielberg, aired in September 2001 to wide critical acclaim.

Hanks too paid tribute in a statement saying, "no one who knew Dick Winters will ever forget him." 

The statement reads:

When our days run their course and a man like Dick Winters leaves us, time and providence remind us that human beings can do giant things.  Dick Winters volunteered to go to war, leading paratroopers into unknown, yet certain, dangers.  He led by both command and example; his wartime philosophy was simple -- "Follow me.” When the world needed heroes, he served in a company of heroes.  In a historic time, he was both a humble witness and an honorable warrior.   In the decades since, he cherished the peace he had earned with humility and integrity.