Edward Shames, WWII Veteran Who Helped Inspire ‘Band of Brothers,’ Dies at 99

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Edward Shames, the WWII veteran who helped inspire the hit HBO series Band of Brothers, has passed away at the age of 99 on Friday (December 3rd).

According to his obituary by the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory, the World War II veteran passed away peacefully in his home. He was born on June 13, 1922. He was called to duty in World War II. Shames was a member of the Easy Company; 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment; and101st Airborne Division, which was known as the “Band on Brothers.”

He is proceeded in death by his wife, Ida. Who he was married to for nearly 75 years. He is survived by his family: his sons, Steven (Linda) and Douglas (Ilene); his grandchildren, Sarah (Matthew), Samuel (Holly), Aaron (Rachel), and Rebecca (Anthony); and his 12 great-grandchildren.

Less than a month before his death, Shames was presented with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Wings of Valor Award. He received the award from the American Veterans Center at its annual Veterans Conference and Honors program. He also received the final toast. 

How Ed Shames Became an Inspiration For ‘Band of Brothers’

Ed Shames’ obituary then states that the Band of Brothers inspiration was involved in some of the most important battles of the war. “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.”

The obituary of the Band of Brothers icon also reveals that he was both a stubborn and very outspoke soldier. He demanded the highest of standards from himself and his fellow soldiers. “He not only earned the respect of his men. But [he] was recognized by command for outstanding leadership.”

He received a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant on June 13, 1944 (D-Day). This made him the first non-commissioned officer in the Third Battalion to receive a commission in Normandy. He was also the first member of the 101st to enter the Dachau concentration camp. This was just days after the camp was liberated by the Allies.

Shames and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. He managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac. One of the labels indicated they were “for the Fuhrer’s use only.” He eventually used the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. 

Following his service in World War II, Shames worked for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle East affairs. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve Division. He then retired as a Colonel.

Shames was known as the last surviving officer and the oldest surviving member of the “Band of Brothers.”