Retired Colonel Edward Shames, the last surviving officer from the legendary Easy Company of World War II paratroopers whose exploits were featured in the award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers, died at age 99 on Friday.
Shames died ‘peacefully at home,’ according to an obituary posted by the Holloman-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory.
Born to Jewish parents, Shames forged his mother’s signature to enlist in the Army in 1942 at just 19, and was one of the officers in charge of the famed Easy Company, part of the US Army’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
The book Band of Brothers – chronicling the bravery of Easy Company, or the Screaming Eagles – was written by Stephen Ambrose in 1992.
Shames’s death leaves 97-year-old Bradford Freeman as the last surviving member of Easy Company. Freeman, who enlisted and was a mortarman, was a consultant for the Band of Brothers HBO miniseries created by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg in 2001.
Edward Shames (pictured) forged his mother’s signature to enlist in the Army in 1942 at just 19 years old, and was one of the famed members of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, leading to its chronicling in the book Band of Brothers in 1992
Edward Shames (pictured in 2019) died ‘peacefully at home,’ according to an obituary posted by the Holloman-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory
Nine years after Band of Brothers was written by Stephen Ambrose, the book was made into an HBO miniseries, created by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg. Shames was played by actor Joseph May (pictured)
In 2012, Shames described the grueling training he underwent in Georgia before he was first sent out into combat.
‘A 25-mile march for us was just like a Sunday stroll,’ he said.
‘We had to walk 10 to 12 miles to get to our training area at Toccoa and then train all day and walk back 10 or 12 miles back to camp every day.’
Shames’s first day on active duty as a member of the Easy Company involved him parachuting into Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
Pictured are the members of the Easy Company, who inspired the HBO miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’
Edward Shames is pictured here with another member of the Easy Company
Ed Shames, left, is pictured here with Paula Abdul in 2015 on the anniversary of D-Day
‘You could hear the shrapnel hitting against the side of the plane and when we jumped out, you could hear the bullets coming through the parachutes,’ Shames recounted.
He went on to fight in Operation Pegasus, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge – and became one of the first American soldiers to help liberate Dachau concentration camp.
After Germany’s surrender in 1945, Shames raided Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ used primarily to entertain visiting dignitaries, along with the rest of Easy Company. There, he swiped bottled of cognac that were labeled ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only,’ which he used to toast his oldest son’s bar mitzvah.
After Germany’s surrender in 1945, Shames (pictured) raided Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest,’ used primarily to entertain visiting dignitaries, along with the Easy Company
Shames retired as a colonel after working for the National Security Agency for Middle East Affairs and the Army reserve.
He and his wife, Ida, were married for 73 years and traveled the world together before she eventually passed away. The pair are survived by their sons Douglas and Steven, their four grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
Services for Shames will be held in Norfolk, Virginia, at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Sunday morning.
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