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Last WWII Brotherhood Officer Edward Shames dies at 99


Colonel Edward Shames, the last surviving member of the World War II Parachute Infantry Regiment known as the “Band of Brothers” that inspired the HBO miniseries and the book of the same name, died on Friday. He was 99 years old.

An obituary published by Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory indicates that Shames, of Norfolk, Va., Passed away peacefully at the home.

Shames enlisted in the Army in 1942, was parachuted into Normandy, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge with the “Easy Company”, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

Their combined efforts – and sacrifices – in the name of freedom inspired the 2001 HBO miniseries Brother bands, reported the Virginian-Pilot.

The miniseries was based on a New York Times bestselling Stephen Ambrose.

At just 19 years old when he enlisted, Shames trained at Camp Toccoa, Georgia.

His service subsequently saw him involved in some of the most important battles of WWII.

“He made his first combat jump in Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord. He volunteered for Operation Pegasus, then fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, ”according to the obituary.

Edward Shames, center, kisses Ed McClung, center left, both members of World War II Army Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, with veterans Jack Foley, left, Joe Lesniewski , right, and Shifty Powers, far right, at the Library of Congress in Washington, July 16, 2003 (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert, File)

Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter Dachau Concentration Camp just days after his release.

“When Germany surrendered, Ed and his men from the Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of brandy, with a label indicating they were” on the spot. ‘Führer’s exclusive use. “He would later use the cognac to toast his eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah,” the obituary reads.

Shames worked for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle Eastern affairs after the war ended. He also served in the US Army Reserve Division and later retired as a colonel.

The 2001 miniseries Band of brothers, created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, followed Easy Company from its formation in Georgia in 1942 until the end of the war in 1945. Shames was played by British actor Joseph May.

Hear the shames speak of his wartime experiences below:

Shames was predeceased by his wife, Ida, who died in 2019 after 73 years of marriage. He is survived by his sons Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Va. On Sunday morning, the funeral home announced.

AP, UPI contributed to this story

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