Last World War II veteran of the ‘Band of Brothers’ unit, Edward Shames dies
The United States has lost another vivid link to World War II history with the death of the last surviving officer of the US Army regiment that inspired HBO’s award-winning “The Brothers Band.”
Edward Shames, a member of the Easy Company unit whose actions formed the basis of HBO’s miniseries and an earlier book of the same name, died Friday at the age of 99.
An obituary posted by Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematorium Shames said “passed away peacefully at home” in Virginia.
Shames, born June 13, 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia, was a member of Easy Company, 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He participated in some of the most important battles of the World. Second World War, first saw action in Normandy on D-Day, volunteered for Operation Pegasus and fought in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, according to the obituary.
Shames, who received the rank of Second lieutenant in the field in June 1944, “was known as a stubborn and very outspoken fighter who demanded the highest standards from himself and his comrades”, obituary said.
He later became the first member of the 101st corps to enter the Dachau concentration camp after it was liberated. “As Germany surrendered, Ed and his Easy Company men entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, where Ed managed to procure a few bottles of cognac, a label that said they were ‘for the Führer only’. . He will then use cognac to raise a glass for his eldest son Bar Mitzvah,” according to the obituary.
Later generations became familiar with Easy Company’s accomplishments following the publication of “Band of Brothers,” Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book, and HBO’s 2001 Emmy-winning miniseries, which included Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks are executive producers. Cast members include Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston and Donnie Wahlberg, with Shames played by Joseph May, according to IMDb.
After the war, Shames worked as a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs for the National Security Agency and served in the Reserve Division of the United States Army, after retiring as a colonel.
Shames, a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, was his wife, Ida, 73 years old.
He continued to receive the title in the weeks leading up to his death, when the American Veterans Center presented him with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Wings of Valor Award in November.
A grave cleaning service was scheduled for Sunday.
Contribution: Associated Press