Last of WWII ‘Band of Brothers’ Officer Edward Shames Dies at 99

Edward Shames, a member of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during World War II, died Friday at age 99. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons

Col. Edward Shames, final surviving member of the World War II parachute infantry regiment known as the “Band of Brothers” which inspired the HBO miniseries and book of the same name, died Friday. He was 99.

An obituary posted by the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory said Shames, of Norfolk, Virginia, died peacefully at home.

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

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

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

Only 19 at the time of his enlistment, Shames trained at Camp Toccoa, Ga.

His service subsequently saw him involved in some of the most important battles of World War II.

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

Edward Shames, center, hugs Ed McClung, center left, both members of the World War II Army Company E of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne, with veterans Jack Foley, left, Joe Lesniewski, right, and Shifty Powers, far right, at the Library of Congress in Washington, on July 16, 2003. Shames, who was the last surviving officer of “Easy Company,” which inspired the HBO miniseries and book “Band of Brothers,” has died at age 99. An obituary posted by the Holomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory said Shames, of Norfolk, Va., died peacefully at his home on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

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

Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter Dachau concentration camp, just days after its liberation.

“When Germany surrendered, Ed and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only.’ Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah,” the obituary outlined.

Shames worked for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle East affairs at war’s end. He also served in the U.S. 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 training in Georgia in 1942 all the way to the war’s end in 1945. Shames was portrayed by British actor Joseph May.

Hear Shames talk about his wartime experiences below:

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

A graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday morning, the funeral home said.

AP, UPI contributed to this story

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