Even as Parkinson's disease began taking its toll on Dick Winters, who led his "Band of Brothers" through some of World War II's fiercest European battles, the unassuming hero refused, as always, to let his men down.
Friends accompanied him to public events, subtly clearing a path through the adoring crowds for the living legend, whose Easy Company's achievements were documented by a book and HBO miniseries. His gait had grown unsteady, and he did not want to be seen stumbling.
Winters "didn't want the members of Easy Company to know," William Jackson said Monday of his longtime friend, who died last week at age 92. "Right up to the end, he was the company commander."
An intensely private and humble man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral, Jackson said. Winters lived in Hershey, Pa., but died in an assisted-living center in neighboring Palmyra.
The men Winters led through harrowing circumstances and under fire from the German army never let the toll of time dull their own admiration for their commander.