Jewish war hero Edward Shames, last living member of Easy Company, passes

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1st LT Edward Shames, Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, US Army / Public Domain Photo

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Edward Shames, a Jewish World War II veteran and the last surviving officer of the famed “Easy Company,” has died. He was 99.

According to an obituary posted online, Shames passed away peacefully at home on December 3, 2021.

Shames was born in Norfolk, Virginia on June 13, 1922.

World War II Begins

In August 1942, after the start of World War II, Shames became a member of the renowned Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division now known globally as the “Band of Brothers.”

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As a member of the Easy Company, Shames 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.

1st LT Edward Shames, Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, US Army

According to the obituary, Shames gained a reputation as a stubborn and very outspoken soldier who demanded the highest of standards from himself and his fellow soldiers. He not only earned the respect of his men, but was recognized by command for outstanding leadership and on June 13, 1944, he 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.

After entering Germany, the Jewish warrior was the first member of the 101st to enter Dachau concentration camp, just days after its liberation. When Germany surrendered, Shames and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Shames managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were “for the Fuhrer’s use only.”

He would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.

Shames went on to work 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.