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Edward Shames, last ‘Band of Brothers’ officer, dies at 99

Edward Shames hugs Ed McClung, both members of the World War II Army Company E of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne,
Edward Shames, center, hugs Ed McClung, left, at the Library of Congress in 2003. Shames, who was the last surviving officer of Easy Company, which inspired the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died at age 99.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Edward Shames, a World War II veteran who was the last surviving officer of Easy Company, which inspired the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died. He was 99.

An obituary posted by the Holomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory said Shames, of Norfolk, Va., died peacefully at his home on Friday.

Shames was involved in some of the most important battles of World War II. During the war, he was a member of the renowned Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

“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.

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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 said.

Columnist George Skelton writes that his generation is the last that will have any recollection of the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II, which made America a superpower and California a nation-state.

After the war, Shames worked as an expert on Middle East affairs for the National Security Agency. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve Division and retired as a colonel.

Easy Company was the subject of Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book “Band of Brothers,” upon which the HBO miniseries was based. The 2001 miniseries, 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.

Shames is survived by his sons Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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


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