Tom Hanks calls Maj. Richard Winters, the late military hero whose World War II experiences were depicted in the novel and HBO miniseries 'Band of Brothers,' a "humble witness and an honorable warrior."
The U.S. military commander died last week at age 92 after battling Parkinson's disease.
He was was interviewed about his experiences for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers." It was made into an HBO miniseries that aired in 2001 and depicted the missions of the members of the US Army 101st Airborne division from Operation Overlord through V-J Day.
Damian Lewis played Winters in the miniseries, which also starred Scott Grimes and Ron Livingston of "Office Space" fame and which won six Emmys. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg served as executive producers.
"Dick Winters volunteered to go to war, leading paratroopers into unknown, yet certain, dangers," Hanks said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. "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," Hanks added. "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. No one who knew Dick Winters will ever forget him."
Winters was born on Jan. 21, 1918 and studied economics at Franklin & Marshall College before enlisting in the military. He led Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy, the Associated Press said.
Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach, the news wire reported. In September 1944, Winters also led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers.
"Dick Winters was at the Vanguard of representing 'The Greatest Generation' in bringing honor to all his Band of Brothers when he collaborated with Tom Hanks, Stephen Ambrose and me in the mounting of our tribute series," Spielberg said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com.
"He would not have wanted this credit," he added. "He would have simply asked all of us to never forget how his generation served this nation and the world in WWII."
A message on the "Band of Brothers" miniseries' Facebook page said: "We salute you, Major Dick Winters."