E Company, 506th Infantry Regiment (United States)
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|E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th, 101st Airborne (Air Assault)|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Role||Air Assault Forces|
|Size||140 soldiers listed, but "162 soldiers and officers" is said in part 7 of Band of Brothers because of replacements|
|Motto(s)||"Currahee" (We Stand Alone)|
|March||Blood on the Risers|
|Engagements||World War II:
* Operation Overlord
* Operation Market Garden
* Battle of the Bulge
* Western Allied invasion of Germany
|Colonel Robert Sink|
| Major Richard Winters
Capt Herbert Sobel
Capt Ronald Speirs
First Lt. Norman Dike
First Lt. Frederick Heyliger
First Lt. Thomas Meehan †
Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the "Screaming Eagles", is one of the best-known companies in the United States Army. Their experiences in World War II are the subject of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers based on the book of the same name by historian Stephen Ambrose. In 2009, twenty of the last few remaining survivors from Easy Company recounted their stories in the oral-history book project We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories From the Band of Brothers.
- 1 History
- 2 Missions
- 3 Personnel
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The 506th PIR was an experimental airborne regiment created in 1942 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. Easy Company missions were to involve being parachuted from C-47 transport airplanes over hostile territory.
Major Richard Winters described the original organization of Easy Company as follows:
"[Easy] company included three rifle platoons and a headquarters section. Each platoon contained three twelve-man rifle squads and a six-man mortar team squad. Easy also had one machine gun attached to each of its rifle squads, and a 60mm mortar in each mortar team."
Before attending paratrooper training, the unit had to perform the standard battle drills and physical training that comes with being in the parachute infantry. One of the exercises was the regular running of Currahee, a large, steep hill. The phrase "3 miles up, 3 miles down" was derived from this run. Easy Company, while training at Toccoa, was under the command of Herbert Sobel, who was known for his extreme strictness.
Also as part of their physical training, the members of Easy Company performed formation runs in three-four column running groups. This innovative type of training was adopted by the Army in the 1960s.
Operation Overlord (D-Day)
For Operation Overlord, Easy Company's mission was to capture the entrances to and clear any obstacles around "Causeway 2", a pre-selected route off Utah Beach for the Allied forces landing from the sea a few hours later. The company departed from Upottery airbase in Devon, England, and dropped over the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy, France in the early hours of the morning of 6 June 1944. After assembling on the ground, the men of Easy Company disabled a battery of four German heavy guns on D-Day that threatened forces coming along Causeway 2. A town in France called Carentan was crucial for American soldiers to capture because it would link Omaha and Utah beaches together so the soldiers could move equipment through. The Germans knew that so they wanted to keep the town out of allied hands. In one of Donald Malarkey's articles he stated that Lieutenant Winters made him mortar sergeant of second platoon. Easy Company, along with Dog and Fox Companies, were walking down the road to Carentan when they came to an intersection and one or two German machine gun teams suddenly started firing on them. Mortars and tanks soon joined the fight. The American soldiers all jumped into ditches for cover. Winters saw this and as Malarkey states, Winters "got hotter than I've ever seen him." It was a fast attack, at the end of which Malarkey states that he could hear moans and groans of wounded soldiers and occasional gun shots. Also at the end of the battle Winters was slightly wounded in his lower right leg by a ricocheting bullet fragment. The Germans mounted a counterattack, but 2nd battalion held onto Carentan.
Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Easy Company was assigned to support the British forces around Eindhoven, by defending the roads and bridges, so that the British armored divisions could advance into Arnhem and force a crossing over the major bridge across the Rhine River in September 1944. The story of the ill-fated Operation Market Garden is told in the book A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan.
Easy Company landed on its designated drop zone in the Sonsche Forest, north west of Son and marched down the road into Son behind the 2nd Battalion's other two companies. When the 2nd Battalion reached the Son Bridge they were met by enemy harassing fire whilst the bridge was destroyed by the Germans. After the Regiment's engineers constructed a makeshift crossing, Easy and the rest of the 506th moved out for Eindhoven. These events were omitted from Band of Brothers, with Easy having been portrayed as landing in the Netherlands and then marching into Eindhoven to join up with the British Army advancing from the south.
On 19 September, Easy departed for Helmond accompanied by six Cromwell tanks of the British 11th Armoured Division. Their advance was halted by the German 107th Panzer Brigade outside Nuenen and they were forced to retreat to Tongelre. During the days following the link up, Easy successfully defended the towns of Veghel and Uden until XXX Corps infantry took up the task of defending the area. As Market Garden progressed, Easy and the rest of the 101st joined the 82nd Airborne on "the island" north of Nijmegen.
At the conclusion of Market Garden, the company relieved the British 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division in Zetten. On 5 October 1944, 1st platoon fought in the battle of "the island" that lay between the Lower Rhine and the Waal river. Along with a platoon from Fox Company and support from the Royal Artillery, they routed two Waffen-SS companies on 5 October 1944. Colonel Sink issued a general order citing 1st platoon of Easy for gallantry in action, describing their attack a "daring act and skillful maneuver against a numerically superior force".
Easy Company was involved in the rescue of over 100 British troops trapped outside Arnhem. Operation Pegasus was a military operation carried out on the Lower Rhine near the village of Renkum, close to Arnhem in the Netherlands. Overnight on 22–23 October 1944, the Allies evacuated a large group of men trapped in German occupied territory who had been in hiding since the Battle of Arnhem. On the south bank of a Dutch river, Canadian engineers and a patrol of E Company observed the signal and immediately launched their boats, but the British were some 500-800m upriver of the crossing point. Upon reaching the north bank E Company established a small perimeter while men headed east to locate the evaders. The men quickly moved downstream and in the next 90 minutes all of them were evacuated, with the exception of a Russian who was captured by the Germans. The Germans opened fire sporadically and some mortar rounds fell near the crossing, but the fire was inaccurate. Once on the other side the escapees were led to a farmhouse for refreshments, before being driven to Nijmegen where Dobie had arranged a party and champagne. The men were later flown back to the UK, rejoining the men who had escaped in Operation Berlin.
Battle of the Bulge
During December 1944 and January 1945, Easy Company and the rest of the 101st Airborne Division fought in Belgium in the Battle of the Bulge. The 101st was in France in December when the Germans launched their offensive in the Ardennes. They were told to hold the vital cross-roads at Bastogne and were soon encircled by the Germans. Easy Company fought in cold weather under German artillery fire without winter clothing and with limited rations and ammunition.
Between the days of 1 to 13 January, Easy company took control of the Bois Jacques woods in Belgium, between the town of Foy and Bizory. Easy Company's assignment was to take the town of Foy.
Division Headquarters ordered the attack to begin at 0900 hours. During the assault, Dike led Easy Company forward, then ordered 1st platoon (led by Lieutenant Jack Foley) to the left and lost contact with them. Dike ordered the remainder of the company to take cover after coming under fire. With the unit unable to proceed, he was informed by his subordinates that they would get killed if they didn't advance into the town, as they were now unprotected from enemy fire. At the same time, Captain Richard Winters, former Commander of Easy Company and now Battalion Executive Officer, radioed to Dike, telling him the same thing. Dike ordered 1st platoon on a flanking mission around the town, and then found cover and froze, ignoring Winters' orders. As Carwood Lipton, first sergeant at the time, later put it: "He fell apart."
According to Clancy Lyall, Dike stopped because he had been wounded in the right shoulder (which Lyall saw), not because he had panicked.
In either case, Dike was immediately relieved by First Lieutenant Ronald Speirs under orders from Captain Winters. To countermand Dike's previous orders, Speirs himself ran through the town and German lines (as 1st platoon had no radio), linked up with the Item Company soldiers and relayed the order. Having completed this, he then ran back through the German-occupied town. Carwood Lipton later stated that "the Germans were so shocked at seeing an American soldier running through their lines - they forgot to shoot!" Speirs was reassigned as commanding officer of Easy Company and remained in that position for the rest of the war.
With the capture of Foy, the Allies defeated the German line in Bastogne. Afterward, Easy Company and the rest of the 506th PIR moved into Germany. The 101st Airborne Division was awarded a unit citation for holding the line at Bastogne.
Toward the end of the war, Easy Company was assigned to occupation duty in Germany, specifically to Berchtesgaden, which was home to Adolf Hitler’s famous Eagle's Nest. Following Berchtesgaden, Easy Company moved into Austria for further occupation duty. The company mostly attended to various patrols, awaiting the end of the war.
Easy Company and the rest of the 506th PIR was disbanded in November 1945 and reactivated in 1954 as a training unit. Under the Combat Arms Regimental System and U.S. Army Regimental System, the lineage of Easy Company is officially inactive, but the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, a unit that officially traces its lineage to the World War II Company B, 506th PIR maintains an unofficial link to Easy Company's heritage.
One hundred forty men formed the original Easy Company in Camp Toccoa, Georgia. Three hundred sixty-six men are listed as belonging to Easy Company by war's end, due to transfers and replacements. Forty-nine men of Easy Company were killed in action.
- Major General Maxwell D. Taylor (101st Airborne Division CO) (26 August 1901 – 19 April 1987)
- Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe (101st Airborne Division Artillery Officer, later acting 101st Airborne Division CO) (2 July 1898 – 11 August 1975)
- Colonel Robert Frederick "Bob" Sink (506th Regiment CO) (3 April 1905 – 13 December 1965)
- Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Strayer (2nd Battalion CO, later 506th Regiment XO) (2 March 1910 – 18 December 2002)
- Major Oliver M. Horton (2nd Battalion XO) (12 September 1912 – 5 October 1944) †
- Major Richard D. "Dick" Winters (2nd Battalion XO, later acting 2nd Battalion CO) (21 January 1918 – 2 January 2011)
- Captain Herbert M. Sobel (26 January 1912 – 30 September 1987)
- First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan III (8 July 1921 – 6 June 1944) †
- Major Richard D. "Dick" Winters (21 January 1918 – 2 January 2011)
- Unnamed officer
- First Lieutenant Frederick Theodore "Moose" Heyliger (23 June 1916 – 3 November 2001)
- First Lieutenant Norman S. Dike (19 May 1918 – 23 June 1989)
- Captain Ronald C. Speirs (20 April 1920 – 11 April 2007)
- Captain Lewis Nixon (30 September 1918 – 11 January 1995)
- First Lieutenant Lynn D. "Buck" Compton (31 December 1921 – 25 February 2012)
- First Lieutenant Jack E. Foley (18 August 1922 – 14 September 2009)
- First Lieutenant Thomas A. Peacock (18 February 1920 – 27 June 1948)
- First Lieutenant Edward D. "Ed" Shames (b. 13 June 1922)
- First Lieutenant J. B. Stokes (2 September 1922 – 24 February 2013)
- First Lieutenant Henry Jones (1924 – 21 July 1947)
- First Lieutenant Harry Welsh (27 September 1918 – 21 January 1995)
- Second Lieutenant Robert B. Brewer (1924 – 5 December 1996)
- Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton (30 January 1920 – 16 December 2001)
- In order of rank, then alphabetically by last name.
- Technical Sergeant Burton P. "Pat" Christenson (24 August 1922 – 30 December 1998)
- Technical Sergeant Donald G. Malarkey (b. 31 July 1921)
- Technical Sergeant Amos J. "Buck" Taylor (28 September 1920 – 24 August 2011)
- Staff Sergeant James H. "Moe" Alley (20 July 1920 – 14 March 2008)
- Staff Sergeant Leo D. "Fearless Phosgene" Boyle (6 October 1913 – December 1997)
- Staff Sergeant Charles E. "Chuck" Grant (1922 – 1984)
- Staff Sergeant William J. "Wild Bill" Guarnere (28 April 1923 – 8 March 2014) (served as a platoon leader as Staff Sergeant, before demotion)
- Staff Sergeant Herman "Hack" Hanson (3 January 1918 – 15 May 1971)
- Staff Sergeant Terrence C. "Salty" Harris (1920 – 18 June 1944) †
- Staff Sergeant John W. "Johnny" Martin (12 May 1922 – 26 January 2005)
- Staff Sergeant Earl E. "One-Lung" McClung (27 April 1923 – 27 November 2013)
- Staff Sergeant Darrell C. "Shifty" Powers (13 March 1923 – 17 June 2009)
- Staff Sergeant Robert J. "Bob" Rader (9 October 1923 – 7 April 1997)
- Staff Sergeant Denver "Bull" Randleman (20 November 1920 – 26 June 2003)
- Staff Sergeant Myron N. "Mike" Ranney (11 November 1922 – 22 September 1988)
- Staff Sergeant Roderick G. "Rod" Strohl (b. 24 June 1922)
- Staff Sergeant Floyd M. "Tab" Talbert (26 August 1923 – 10 October 1982) (served as First Sergeant for a time, requested demotion)
- Staff Sergeant Joseph J. "Joe" Toye (14 March 1919 – 3 September 1995)
- Sergeant Gordon F. "Gordy" Carson (30 July 1924 – 13 November 1998)
- Sergeant William F. "Bill" Kiehn (1921 – 10 February 1945) †
- Sergeant Clarence O. "Clancy" Lyall (14 October 1925 – 19 March 2012)
- Sergeant Warren H. "Skip" Muck (31 January 1922 – 10 January 1945) †
- Sergeant Paul C. "Hayseed" Rogers (12 July 1918 – 16 March 2015)
- Sergeant Wayne A. "Skinny" Sisk (4 March 1922 – 13 July 1999)
- Sergeant Robert Burr Smith (2 May 1924 – 7 January 1983)
- Sergeant Robert E. "Popeye" Wynn (10 July 1921 – 18 March 2000)
- Technician Fourth Grade George Luz (17 June 1921 – 15 October 1998)
- Technician Fourth Grade Frank J. Perconte (10 March 1917 – 24 October 2013)
- Technician Fourth Grade Eugene G. Roe (17 October 1921 – 30 December 1998)
- Corporal Walter S. "Smokey" Gordon (15 April 1920 – 19 April 1997)
- Corporal Forrest L. "Goody" Guth (6 February 1921 – 8 August 2009)
- Corporal Donald B. Hoobler (28 June 1922 – 3 January 1945)
- Corporal Dewitt "Alabama" Lowrey (22 April 1922 – 8 July 2015)
- Technician Fifth Grade Roderick G. "Rod" Bain (13 May 1922 – 5 February 2014)
- Technician Fifth Grade Joseph D. "Joe" Liebgott (17 May 1915 – 28 June 1992)
- Technician Fifth Grade John "Jack" McGrath (12 December 1919 – 24 April 2012)
- Private First Class Edward J. "Babe" Heffron (16 May 1923 – 1 December 2013)
- Private First Class Eugene E. Jackson (29 July 1922 – 15 February 1945) †
- Private First Class Joseph A. "Joe" Lesniewski (29 August 1920 – 23 May 2012)
- Private First Class Alex M. Penkala, Jr. (30 August 1924 – 10 January 1945) †
- Private First Class Edwin E. "Ed" Pepping (b. 4 July 1922)
- Private First Class Edward "Ed" Tipper (b. 3 August 1921 - 1 February 2017)
- Private First Class David K. Webster (2 June 1922 – 9 September 1961)
- Private Albert Blithe (25 June 1923 – 17 December 1967)
- Private Roy W. Cobb (18 June 1914 – January 1990)
- Beyond Band of Brothers, pages 16–17. ISBN 978-0-425-21375-9
- "Easy Company in France - After D-Day". The History Reader.
- Ambrose, Stephen. page 127.
- Ambrose, Stephen. page 143.
- Ambrose, Stephen. page 149.
- Ambrose, Stephen. page 153.
- Ambrose, p159
- Waddy, p187
- Van der Zee, p 135
- Digby Tatham-Warter
- Waddy, p188
- Ambrose, p.208
- Ambrose, p.209
- "Belgium - Lieutenant Ronald C Speirs". ronaldspeirs.com.
- Winters, Richard D., with Cole C. Kingseed (2006). Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-425-20813-3.
- "Easy Company, 1942-1945" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhd4J2kbxG8
- "Lineage and Honors Information: 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment". U.S. Army Center for Military History. 14 March 2014.
- perspective, We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from Band of Brothers
- Ambrose, Stephen (1992). Band of Brothers.
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