- Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
- Occupational Specialty: Glider Pilot
- Unit: 99th Troop Carrier Squadron
On the morning of June 6th, 1944 Lieutenant DeWindt (Leland Orser) was a glider pilot in the 99th Troop Carrier Squadron and was carrying soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 327th Glider Infantry. DeWindt's glider was also carrying Brigadier General Amend, the Deputy Commander of the 101st Airborne.
In order to provide additional protection for Brigadier General Amend, steel plates had been welded onto the deck of the glider. DeWindt had not been informed of this modification until it was too late, and he had extreme difficulty in controlling the over-loaded glider once it was released from its C-47 tow plane.
The glider crash-landed into the French countryside, decapitating the co-pilot and killing General Amend, who had been seated in his jeep. DeWindt was unharmed. Days later DeWindt made contact with Captain Miller, whose 2nd Ranger squad was searching for Private James Ryan.
While it is not specifically stated that DeWindt is a 2nd Lieutenant or a 1st Lieutenant, it seems reasonable for a glider pilot to be of the lower rank.
Fact vs. Fiction
DeWindt twice refers to his glider as having lost 22 men in its crash landing. Considering that his glider was already carrying a jeep, it would have been impossible to pack 22 additional men into the glider's cargo hold. The WACO CG-4A glider would normally carry 13 men.
The crash of DeWindt's glider is based on a real incident that involved Brigadier General Don Pratt of the 101st. In reality Pratt's glider was carrying a pilot, co-pilot, Pratt, one paratrooper, and Pratt's jeep. Pratt and the co-pilot were the only ones killed. DeWindt's real life counterpart was Lt. Mike Murphy.