Edward Shames, Last Surviving 'Band of Brothers' Officer, Dies at 99

Edward Shames served in World War II as a member of the renowned Easy Company unit, which inspired the book and HBO miniseries Band of Brothers

Edward Shames
Edward Shames. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty

Edward Shames, a World War II veteran whose service was portrayed in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, has died. He was 99.

Shames died peacefully at his Norfolk, Virginia home on Friday, according to his obituary.

During World War II, he served as a member of the legendary Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The military unit's story went on to inspire the book and HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, in which Shames was portrayed by actor Joseph May.

According to his obituary, Shames was the last surviving officer and oldest surviving member of Easy Company.

Ed Shames
Edward Shames as a young soldier. US Airborne

Born on June 13, 1922, Shames was just 20 years old when he was called to duty in WWII, according to his obituary.

During the war, Shames "gained a reputation as a stubborn and very outspoken soldier who demanded the highest of standards from himself" and others, which led him to be "involved in some of the most important battles."

Shames made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord, volunteered for Operation Pegasus, and fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, according to his obituary.

In 1944, Shames was recognized by command for outstanding leadership and received a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant.

"This made him the first non-commissioned officer in the Third Battalion to receive a commission in Normandy," his obituary read.

Edward Shames
Edward Shames (center) hugging fellow Easy Company member, Ed McClung, at the Library of Congress in 2003. Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock

Later in his tenure, Shames became the first member of the 101st to enter the Dachau concentration camp after its liberation, according to his obituary. Along with the rest of Easy Company, he also entered Hitler's bunker following Germany's surrender.

"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,' " his obituary read, in part. "Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son's Bar Mitzvah."

In 1992, Easy Company's story was recounted in Stephen Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers. The novel later inspired the 2001 HBO miniseries of the same name, which was created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

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Following the war, Shames continued to serve his country by working for the National Security Agency as an expert on Middle East affairs and in the U.S. Army Reserve Division, according to his obituary. He retired as a Colonel.

In November, Shames was also presented with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Wings of Valor Award by the American Veterans Center.

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Shames was preceded in death by his "devoted and beloved" wife of 73 years, Ida, according to his obituary. He is survived by his two sons, four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service for the World War II veteran was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk on Sunday.

His family is asking for memorial contributions to be made in Shames' honor to the Wounded Warrior Project or the American Veterans Center in Arlington, Virginia.

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