Col. Edward David Shames, the last surviving officer from the World War II Army unit immortalized by HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” died Friday. He was 99.
The veteran “passed away peacefully” at his home, according to an obituary from the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory in Norfolk, Virginia.
Born in Norfolk on June 13, 1922, Shames was the oldest surviving member of the “renowned Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division now known globally as the ‘Band of Brothers,’ ” per the obituary. The late vet was “involved in some of the most important battles of the war,” according to the tribute, which noted that he made his “first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord.” He later volunteered for “Operation Pegasus and then fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne,” noted the obit.
The Virginia vet was also the first member of Easy Company to enter the Dachau concentration camp, mere days after it was liberated.
During his service, Shames developed a reputation as a “stubborn and very outspoken soldier who demanded the highest of standards from himself and his fellow soldiers,” according to the eulogy, which noted that Shames’ perhaps most memorable exploit came after Germany surrendered and he and other 101st members stormed into Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
“Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only,’” according to the obit. “Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.”
Shames and his fellow company members’ exploits were documented in the seven-time Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, which was based on the 1992 book of the same name by Stephen A. Ambrose. The former infantryman was portrayed in the series by British actor Joseph May.
Following the war, Shames worked for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle East affairs and served in the US Army Reserve Division until finally retiring after earning the rank of colonel.
Aside from being a courageous soldier, the colonel was also a dedicated family man, preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Ida, according to the funeral home. Shames is survived by two sons, Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
With Shames’ passing, 97-year-old Bradford Freeman is now the last remaining member of Easy Company.
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