NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — 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. Edward Shames was 99.
An obituary posted by a funeral home 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. He made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord. He also fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.
In his own words during an interview with News 3 several years ago, the Army veteran remembered his time in the hard-fought war.
“There's two things that I'm proud of that I did in World War II,” said Shames in 2014. “The one was my battlefield Commission and the other was that I brought more men home from my platoon than any other of the 200 platoons in the 101st Airborne Division. The rest is what I was supposed to do, and how I was supposed to do it.”
Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter Dachau concentration camp, just days after its liberation.
Sunday, family, friends, and military members came together honoring the steadfast soldier in a solemn service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk.
“He went to war so we didn’t have to,” said Ed Shames’ grandson Aaron Shames.
To those who knew Ed Shames best, he was much more than his renowned military service.
“An honorable family man; an honorable soldier; an honorable community member and honorable Jew,” Aaron Shames said.
Family members say he was a proud and very private man.
“He was our grandfather first and foremost,” said Ed Shames’ granddaughter Sarah Shames Ehert. “He never talked about it. To him, it was a job. He did his job. He came home and raised his family. It really wasn’t until recently that he started to talk about the war.”
A devoted grandfather, father and a friend to many. To others, he was simply a hero. His impact has been far reaching. Hundreds showed up to the funeral.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Aaron Shames. “It’s amazing…how far reaching his touch has been.”
Ed Shames leaves behind his two sons, Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren and 12 great- grandchildren.
“He would light up,” said Sarah Shames Ehert of her grandfather’s relationship with his great-grandchildren. “Till the very end he was cognizant, so he knew them. He knew their names. That really meant a lot.”