Jake McNiece, Dick Winters and Others Honored at Currahee

They will never run Currahee again, but Jake McNiece, Dick Winters and the four regimental commanders of the 101st Airborne during World War II are returning to Toccoa. Local citizens are working on raising money for a set of statues that will be placed in a grassy area near the Currahee Military Museum near the foot of the mountain. Until enough money is raised for full-size sculptures, bronze busts will be placed in the garden.

Jake McNiece is the leader of the Filthy Thirteen, a team of soldiers that was immortalized in the movie The Dirty Dozen. Before jumping into Normandy, his friends and he painted their faces and gave themselves Mohawks. McNiece and three other members of the Filthy Thirteen, Jack Womer, Robert Cone and Jack Agnew, spoke at the American Veterans Center’s conference last November.

There Jake shared how he joined the Army when he was running from the law after getting in a bar brawl and nearly killing his opponent. At Camp Toccoa, he avoided running up and down Currahee by simply getting into trouble. His comrade Agnew remembers that he would come running down the hill, completely worn out, and Jake would be grinning at him from the stockade, which was located at the bottom of Currahee.

In England, Jake continued to get into trouble, hunting deer in the game reserve of the estate where they were staying. He also caught fish from the estate’s fish hatcheries to feed his men. He couldn’t stand English food, and he did not think that they should have to eat it! When the English gentleman noticed the animals missing and the dead deer hanging in the tree, he became angry and talked to the commanders. No one in the unit would admit to killing the deer, Jake’s commanders ended up paying the Englishman a hefty $10,000 for the meat.

After jumping into Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion, Jake and Jack Agnew worked together to blow up bridges between Carentan and the beaches to prevent the Germans from bringing reinforcements to their troops. As the Germans withdrew, they made it back to the bridge that Jake and his friends were guarding. The Germans refused to surrender. With the vantage of their position, Jake and his friends were able to defeat the approximately 700 German troops who wanted to cross the bridge.

Dick Winters and all of Easy Company were immortalized in the HBO series the Band of Brothers. Members of the Band of Brothers have also shared their stories at the American Veterans Center’s conferences.

Cynthia Brown, one of the members of the committee for the Legacy of Currahee project, says that the garden will honor all men who fought in World War II not just those depicted by the statues. The project’s expected cost is $500,000.

Below is a picture of one of the Filthy Thirteen prepared for D-Day.

One of the Filthy Thirteen prepared for D-Day

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