The Niland brothers were four American brothers of German descent from Tonawanda, New York, serving in the military during World War II. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick "Fritz" Niland, had survived. After the reported deaths of his three brothers, Fritz was sent back to the United States to complete his service and only later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. Steven Spielberg's film Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the brothers' story.
- Sergeant Frederick "Fritz" Niland (1920–1983), Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Fritz was close friends with Warren Muck and Donald Malarkey, from Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division ("Easy Company"), who were both featured prominently in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.
Fritz fought with the 501st through the first few days of the Normandy campaign. Several days following D-Day, Fritz had gone to the 82nd Airborne Division to see his brother, Bob. Once he arrived at division, he was informed that Bob had been killed on D-Day.
Fritz was shipped back to England, and, finally, to the U.S. where he served as an MP in New York until the completion of the war. Fritz was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. This story is evidenced in Stephen Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers, as well as from biographical data on Sampson. Fritz died in 1983 in San Francisco at the age of 63.
- Technical Sergeant Robert "Bob" Niland (1919–June 6, 1944), 25, Company D, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Killed in action on June 6, 1944 in Normandy. He volunteered to stay behind with two other men and hold off a German advance while his company retreated from Neuville-au-Plain. He was killed while manning his machine gun; the other two men survived.
- Second Lieutenant Preston Niland (1915–June 7, 1944), 29, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was killed in action on June 7, 1944 in Normandy, near Utah Beach.
- Technical Sergeant Edward Niland (1912–1984), U.S. Army Air Forces. Imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp in Burma, captured on May 16, 1944; liberated on May 4, 1945. Edward had parachuted from his B-25 Mitchell and wandered the jungles of Burma before being captured. Edward lived in Tonawanda until his death in 1984 at the age of 72. In "D-Day June 6 1944" Ambrose incorrectly states that Edward died in Burma.
- "The Niland Boys". Canisius College. July 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Francis L. Sampson (1912-1996)". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
- "Tonawanda Flier Freed from Japs" (PDF). Buffalo Courier Express. 1945-05-05. Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "400 Prisoners in Crossfire Aided by Native: Tonawanda Lad Freed by British in Burma". Buffalo Courier Express. 1945-05-08. Archived from the original on 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- Saving Private Ryan Online Encyclopedia
- Saving Private Ryan a real-life drama" by Ron Churchill, University of Buffalo Reporter
- Saving Private Ryan: pictures behind the scenes at Paratrooper Research Team