The clouds were ominous over the Ephrata woods, although not nearly as dark as they were 69 years ago above Omaha Beach.
After surviving a brutal parachute landing into enemy territory, and without his weapon, Maj. Richard Winters managed to lead his company to one of the mission's most effective trench assaults.
“He came from the greatest generation, and as I said they earned that name,” said Brian Dell Isola, an Ephrata police officer.
On Thursday evening, dozens gathered to welcome a stone. On it read the text, “Follow Me.”
Now, this community can – on foot.
Maj. Winters never belonged to any formal church. Instead, his family says that he sought God in nature, and growing up right down the road means that he often did so in woods around East Fulton Street.
“I stopped the car and was looking there and it just came to me,” said Dell Isola, who came up with the idea to dedicate a nature trail to the memory of Maj. Winters.
“Yes, Dick came home,” said Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen, “I don't think there is any better place to build this trail in his honor.”
Below the major's last name on the memorial stone is a carving of an Edelweiss, the favorite flower of this American hero.
“It only grows at the highest altitudes of the Swiss alps,” Dell Isola said. “If you were dedicated enough to get up there and bring it back down, it just showed what kind of person you were.”
The next step is to import a one-thousand pound bronze statue of Winters. One already exists in Normandy, and now the same French sculptor has offered to make a 13-foot-tall duplicate.
To bring it to Ephrata, the town will need to raise about $200,000.