NORFOLK, Va. – Edward Shames, a World War II veteran who was the last surviving officer of “Easy Company,” which inspired the HBO miniseries and book “Band of Brothers,” has died. He was 99.
An obituary posted by the Holomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory said Shames, of Norfolk, Virginia, 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.
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.
After the war, Shames worked for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle East affairs. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve Division and later 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, Virginia, on Sunday morning, the funeral home said.
This story has been edited to correct the name of D-Day operation, Operation Overlord, not Overload.