As the United States marked the 80th Anniversary of the attack of Pearl Harbor this week, the nation was also mourning the loss of a well-known World War II veteran.
Eddie Shames passed away at 99 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and was the last surviving officer of “Easy Company,” who parachuted into the Battle of Normandy, according to The Virginian Pilot.
The outlet reported that Shames and other members of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division were the inspiration for the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”
The legendary World War II veteran Eddie Shames, the last “Band of Brothers” officer, died Friday in Virginia Beach at 99 https://t.co/2BbJyjCjmZ
— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) December 6, 2021
His obituary made it clear that he sacrificed his young life to public service, as he made his first combat jump into Normandy, participated in Operation Market Garden and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
If his military accomplishments weren’t already impressive enough, he helped examine the aftermath at the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and even went inside German dictator Adolf Hitler’s “Eagle Nest” after the nation surrendered the war, with fellow members of his company.
While in the nest, he was able to snag a bottle from Hitler’s personal stash of cognac, a type of brandy.
“Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah,” his obituary said.
The obituary further stated that he went on to work for the National Security Agency after the war, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern affairs, and continued his military service in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Outside of his work-life, his personal life seemed equally admirable.
Although his wife, Ida, passed away in 2019, the couple was married for 73 years and had two sons, four grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
His passing is a sobering reminder that the Greatest Generation won’t be around forever, and it is up to the younger generations to listen to their stories before it’s too late.
— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) December 7, 2021
There are an estimated 240,329 World War II veterans in the United States still alive as of September, according to The National World War II Museum.
The men and women who served in that war witnessed some of the world’s darkest days firsthand, and let’s be honest — most of us don’t take enough time to honor them.
My generation in particular struggles with understanding that while the United States has its flaws, people like Shames are what make patriotism a worthwhile pursuit.
— Fox News @ Night (@foxnewsnight) December 8, 2021
It is a necessity to learn about the causes and impact of the war, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes that led up to it.
Shames and his brothers in combat understood the fragile cost of freedom, and we should too.
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