Band of Brothers: And two remain

In 2019, there were three surviving members of the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion “Currahee,” 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division - a Private, a Colonel and a Medic. This year, only two remain, but the legacy of Toccoa's Camp Currahee lives on.

Army Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre

A Soldier's Whisper @SoldiersWhisper · Jun 2, 2019 Staff Sgt. Al Mampre, one of the last surviving members of the 101st Airborne’s “Easy Company” that was featured in the HBO Series “Band of Brothers” has taken his final flight home. Albert 'Al' Mampre May 25, 1922 - May 31, 2019 Rest in peace Sir. Lest we forget.

Last year, Army Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre passed away at 97 years old. Mampre, who was awarded a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his service, was the last surviving medic from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion “Currahee,” 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

“My basic training in being a medic was Boy Scouts,” Mampre said in a 2018 interview with Stars & Stripes. “Most of what they reviewed with me was what I learned in Boy Scouts, except giving shots, because we were to give all the shots. We practiced on oranges. Well, we never ran into an orange in combat.”

An excerpt from a 2019 Chicago Sun Times article highlights Mampre's spirit.

"The minute we heard about this we were going to support this (funeral) 100 percent," explained Maj. Scott Krasko, Operations Officer, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. "We wanted to respectfully honor the legacy of Al Mampre. The current Soldiers draw strength from those who went before," he said. "It only took one time to meet him to realize what a special person he was. It was because he made everyone feel special," stated Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger. "He loved people. He gave so much of himself to other people. Everybody experienced his charisma, his wit, his humor and his charm and overall kindness." Staff Sgt. Paul Mampreian, a medic assigned to 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington is Mampre's great nephew who also attended the service for his great uncle.

"The wounded lieutenant was lying in a field, dust kicking up all around him from a German sniper.

It was 1944 in the Netherlands, and Al Mampre, a World War II medic with the now-famed Band of Brothers, ventured into the open to try to save Lt. Bob Brewer.

“I lie down next to him. . . and I said, in my best bedside manner, I said, ‘Lieutenant, are you dead? Because if you are, I’m leaving.’

“He croaked out, ‘No, but I don’t know why not.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll stay with you.’ ”

Then, Mr. Mampre himself was hit — shot in the calf and groin.

“Like a. . . . mule kicked me in the leg,” he told the West Point Center for Oral History. “I looked back there, and it’s laid open right to the bone. . . .I gave myself a shot of morphine. . . . I didn’t want to go into shock.”

A Dutch civilian grabbed the lieutenant’s carbine and emptied it on the Germans. Others placed the officer on a ladder. Mr. Mampre scrambled to follow and continued treating him in the relative safety of a Dutch home,"

“He had as they say true grit,” said reverend Larry Handwerk, speaking at Mampre’s funeral. “He was the most generous of men. Wherever he went he was like the sun. His ability to connect with all was like sunshine.”

Mampre, who'd held the rank of staff sergeant, planned to visit Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day last year, but he died on May 31, just before he was set to leave for Europe, according to his daughter Virginia.

SFC Bradford C Freeman

On June 9, 2019, PFC Bradford Freeman, who served with Easy Co. 506PIR, 101st Airborne and parachuted into Normandy in the early hours of June 6, 1944, stands in the open fields along the Merderet River at La Fière, saluting the paratroopers who made the jump. (Photo courtesy Best Defense Foundation)
PFC Bradford "Brad" Freeman, E Company, 2-506 PIR, 101st Airborne (Photo courtesy Project Vigil)

PFC Bradford C Freeman is one of only two surviving members, and the last surviving non-officer member, of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion “Currahee,” 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was honored and commended by the Mississippi Senate with House Resolution 98 in 2017.

WHEREAS, Mr. (Bradford C ) Freeman parachuted into German occupied France on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, with his company, Easy Company, and in a lethal shower of gunfire upon the shores of Omaha Beach, they took out a strategic 105mm Howitzers, and continued to capture several strategic German points, after which they led an assault of the French town of Carentan; and

WHEREAS, after intense fighting from June 9 through June 14, 1944, the Allied forces relieved the town from the tight, insufferable grip of its Nazi foe and pushed back the German counter attack, and the company returned to Aldebourne, England, to replace the men who sacrificed everything for freedom during the D-Day campaign; and

WHEREAS, the company fought on, training for their next assault on Holland known as Operation Market Garden, and on September 17, 1944, Easy Company made their jump into Holland with 154 total men, and with little resistance, the airborne armada placed the company on target, foreboding difficult times just beyond the horizon for Mr. Freeman and his comrades; and

WHEREAS, for nearly ten days, Easy Company fought not only for their own lives but for the lives of other paratroopers that were just up the road from them, but the company successfully seized the objectives and kept the road open; unfortunately, however, the paratroopers were surrounded and had little firepower to combat the enemy, a deadly combination that left only 132 men to stand for the red, white and blue at the end of Operation Market Garden; and

WHEREAS, from October 2 through November 25, 1944, the company held a steadfast defensive line in an area in Holland known as "The Island," while the 506th, Easy Company's parent unit, occupied a gap in the British lines that had been previously held by a British division that was roughly four times the size of the regiment, and the Easy Company had only 130 men to hold a sector that was three kilometers long; and

WHEREAS, of the 130 men who had trekked to The Island, only 98 remained on November 25, 1944, when the company was pulled off the line and sent to France for a much deserved break, and after only a 2-week R and R break, Mr. Freeman and the Easy Company were alert, mobilized and "truck lifted" into the vicinity of the small Belgian town of Bastogne; and

WHEREAS, on December 17, 1944, with minimal winter clothing during one of the harshest winters in European history and scarce ammunition and supplies deep behind enemy lines, Mr. Freeman and company moved into battle again, establishing a defensive ring around the town and defensive positions in the woods east of Bastogne-Foy Road while the 506th was in the northeast quadrant of the ring; and

WHEREAS, the next 12 days proved to be some of the excruciatingly bitter, most grueling fighting in the history of the UnitedStates Army, with the freezing cold temperatures causing as much death and destruction as the Germans, and on December 22, 1944, the Germans offered to accept the surrender of the Easy Company, but General McAuliffe, in an intrepid display of bravery, replied to the Germans with the famous, morale-boosting, rally cry of "Nuts"; and

WHEREAS, the 101st stood tall and resolute against the Germans, and on December 26, 1944, Patton's 3rd Army broke through to the "battered bastards of Bastogne," to offer relief and resupply to the Easy Company whose past 12 days had been anything but easy; and

WHEREAS, despite the relief offered, the Easy Company, who had come to Bastogne with 121 men but left with less than 100 on New Year's Day 1945, was immediately placed on the offensive, and for the first two weeks of January 1945, the company fought to regain ground around Bastogne, and by the middle of January, the 506th was moved to divisional reserves; and

WHEREAS, from January 18 until February 23, 1945, Mr. Freeman and his Easy Company comrades were placed into the lines in the town of Hagenau, and from there, they experienced the bombardments of a fanatical hostile foe followed by small arms exchanges that typify urban combat; and

WHEREAS, the 506th PIR was pulled off the line on February 25, 1945, and moved to Mourmelon, France, where, for the first time since December 17, 1944, they were allowed to shower, cleansing themselves of the dirt, grime and blood that had caked their bodies for the past two months; they were served hot meals; and they could sleep in cots as opposed to the frozen tundra that had tormented them and left their nights restless; and

WHEREAS, while the Easy Company was in Mourmelon, General Dwight D. Eisenhower personally awarded the 101st Airborne Division the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation, the first time in Army history the award had been given to an entire division, for their sacrifice and bravery and continuing the fight for freedom in the face of immense struggle, hardship, unbearable cold, destruction and death; and

WHEREAS, during April 1945, the Easy Company occupied parts of Germany, remaining there until V-E Day in May 1945, and while in Germany, the company had the privilege of securing Hitler's Eagles Nest outside of Berchtesgarden, the final war time achievement for the accomplished Easy Company, as the post war was looming; and

WHEREAS, when Easy Company stormed Omaha Beach and entered World War II on June 6, 1944, 140 men permeated its ranks, but by the end of the war, the company was destitute, as 48 of those men, who served in the Easy Company throughout the war, had perished, paying the ultimate sacrifice for liberty and justice for all, and more than 100 men in the company had been wounded, some more than once, but while their battle cry was "Currahee!" which means "Stands Alone," not one man in the Easy Company stood alone, they stood together as one; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Freeman's unceasing gallantry and indomitable valor during the war earned him some of the most prestigious and esteemed awards a fearless combatant can receive, including the American Campaign Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster (2 awards), the Army Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze oak leaf cluster (2 awards), the Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Silver Star and an Arrowhead Device (6 awards), the French Croix De Guerre Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Belgium Croix De Guerre Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, the Netherlands Bronze Lion Medal, the Parachutist Badge with two Bronze Stars (2 combat jumps), the Combat Infantry Badge and the Rifle, Auto-Rifle and Bayonet Device; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Bradford C. Freeman's unflinching courage and bravery reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the noble traditions of the infantry and the military service; and

WHEREAS, it is the policy of this Legislature to honor heroic Mississippians, such as Mr. Bradford C.Freeman, for his dauntless fortitude and his remarkable dedication to the United States of America and the people of the State of Mississippi, who are eternally appreciative, for without Mr. Freeman, the freedom they know and love would not be possible:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby recognize the courage and bravery of Mr. Bradford C. Freeman and commend his valiant service during World War II on behalf of this great nation.

Col. Edward Shames

Col. Edward Shames
Col. Edward Shames

Retired Col. Edward Shames parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, landing behind enemy lines and beginning a long trek that took him France, Holland, Belgium and Germany.

"After surviving the bitterly cold and brutal siege of Bastogne and Battle of the Bulge, Shames endured the shock of being an early liberator of Dachau, an experience he refuses to discuss," states a 2019 article in Stars & Stripes. "He celebrated victory over Germany from the opulence of Hitler’s mountaintop villa in Bavaria… where he helped himself to the Fuhrer’s monogrammed bottle of cognac...the bottle he saved and opened when son, Steven, became a bar mitzvah nearly 20 years later."

Shames volunteered for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment at the age of 19 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; he is the last surviving officer of Easy Company.

Learn about the legacy:

Visit [ash-ling] Booksellers, the Currahee Military Museum, and the Toccoa/Stephens County Public Library to learn more about Easy Company and D-Day in books like these and many more.

Airborne: The Combat Story of Ed Shames of Easy Company

Tonight We Die As Men: The untold story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment from Tocchoa to D-Day (General Military)

Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from World War II's "Band of Brothers"

Sent by the Iron Sky: The Legacy of an American Parachute Battalion in World War II

Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story

Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers

Shifty's War: The Authorized Biography of Sergeant Darrell "Shifty" Powers, the Legendary Sharpshooter from the Band of Brothers

No Victory in Valhalla: The untold story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment from Bastogne to Berchtesgaden

Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters

A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau


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