Edward Shames, WWII Veteran and "Band of Brothers" Inspiration, Dead at 99

Inside Hook

Over half a century after they first fought in World War II, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division — also known as Easy Company — has been immortalized as one of the most notable fighting units in military history. The camaraderie among its surviving members, decades after their time at war, drew the attention of writer Stephen Ambrose, who wrote about the regiment in his acclaimed book Band of Brothers — itself adapted as an HBO miniseries 20 years ago.

Now, the last surviving officer of Easy Company has died at the age of 99. ABC News reports that Edward Shames died on Friday at his Virginia home. His accomplishments include parachuting into Normandy on D-Day. He was also the first member of Easy Company to liberate Dachau concentration camp.

Among Easy Company’s other accomplishments was raiding the Eagle’s Next, a mountaintop building used by prominent Nazis, including Adolf Hitler. His obituary notes that, while there, he acquired some cognac intended for Hitler, and later used some of it while toasting his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.

After his time in World War II, Shames continued to serve in the Army Reserve and spent time working at the National Security Agency.

In an interview conducted in 2020, Shames recalled his time in the war — which included an attempt to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force due to his being too young, at the time, to enlist in the American armed forces. He also spoke warmly about his fellow soldiers. “I’m no hero. I was just an ordinary soldier,” he said. “I was good, but I was not the best. However, I had the best around me.”