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Edward Shames

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Edward D. Shames
Shames in 1945
Born(1922-06-13)June 13, 1922
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
DiedDecember 3, 2021(2021-12-03) (aged 99)
Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1942–1973
Service number13117836 (enlisted)
Unit101st Airborne Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
RelationsDavid Shames (father)
Sadie Shames (mother)
Anna Shames (sister)
Simmie Shames (sister)
George Shames (brother)
Other workSpecialist on Middle East affairs for the National Security Agency (1945–1982)

Colonel Edward David Shames (June 13, 1922 – December 3, 2021) was a United States Army enlisted man and officer who later served in the U.S. Army Reserve. During World War II, he was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Shames was Jewish and reported being deeply affected by his personal viewing of Nazi Germany's concentration camps.

Shames was the last surviving officer and, following the death of Roderick G. Strohl in December 2019, oldest surviving member of the regiment's Easy Company, 2nd Battalion. He was survived only by Private First Class Bradford C. Freeman.

Early life[edit]

Shames was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in June 1922, to David and Sadie (Winer) Shames. Born in Latvia, David and Sadie were Russian Jewish immigrants who came to the United States in 1904, likely from Odessa.[1][2]

Edward was the youngest of four brothers and sisters.[1] Their father, who owned a grocery store, died in 1927 when Edward was five.[3][4][5] Sadie's brother Ben Winer moved in to help raise the family.[6][1]

By age 18, Shames was married to 16-year-old Lillian Hoffman. In 1940, he lived with his in-laws, Sam and Gussie Hoffman.[7] The couple later divorced.

Shames married Ida Aframe in 1946.[8]

Military service[edit]

World War II[edit]

Shames enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 25, 1942.[9] He read about and applied for duty with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was sent to Toccoa, Georgia, for training, starting as a private in I Company, 3rd Battalion of the 506th.[4][full citation needed]

In England, Shames was promoted to Operations Sergeant.[10][full citation needed] He built the sand tables the airborne unit used in planning the airdrop into Normandy.

Shames made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord.

On 13 June 1944, he received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant; the formal commission was later completed in England.[11][full citation needed] He was the first NCO in the Third Battalion to receive such a commission in Normandy.[12][full citation needed] He was transferred to Easy Company and took charge of its third platoon.

Shames fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and volunteered for Operation Pegasus led by Frederick Heyliger.[13][full citation needed] He was wounded once in his left leg during the campaigns.[11][full citation needed] He then fought with the rest of E Company in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. In Foy, Shames and Paul Rogers knocked out a German tank with a bazooka.[14][full citation needed] In Germany, he saw some of the concentration camps in which the Germans imprisoned and murdered Europe's Jews and, like many American soldiers, was deeply affected.[11][full citation needed]

During the exploration of Eagle's Nest, Shames found a supply of cognac labeled "for the Fuhrer's use only." He later used it to toast his oldest son's Bar Mitzvah.[15]


After World War II, Shames worked for the National Security Agency as a specialist on Middle East affairs from 1945 to 1982. He also served in the United States Army Reserve and retired as a colonel in 1973.

He was married to Ida Aframe (b. April 9, 1922) from 1946 until she died on February 21, 2019.

Shames died on December 3, 2021, at the age of 99 at his residence in Virginia Beach and he was buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia. He was survived by two sons, four grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.[3][16]

At Shames' funeral, the 101st Airborne Division sent a funeral detail of a music section, firing party, and casket party. The detail was from the unit that traced its lineage to Shames's Easy Company. The detail was commanded by the unit's battalion commander. The casket party was led by the second lieutenant who held the same organizational position that Shames held in Easy.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Shames was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Joseph May.

He also provided an audio interview for the documentary Greatest Events of World War 2: In Colour where he briefly described the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, Belgium.

drinking Hitlers cognac at his son's Bar Mitvah[edit]

Located inside downstairs in Kehlsteinhaus was reported to be a room of alcohaul. Mr. Shames said all he wanted was the two bottles of Cognac that was labeles for the furerours use only <written in German> Getting two bottles, giving one to Robert Sink & taking one home. Saving this Cognac for a special day drinking it has his son's Bar Mitzvah & he tossed the bottle away after drinking, saying years later, a two cent glass bottle is all was left.


  1. ^ a b c "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:CH18-LW2  : accessed 5 December 2021), Eddie Shames in household of Sadie Shames, Norfolk, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 71, sheet 3B, line 97, family 51, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2471; FHL microfilm 2,342,205.
  2. ^ "United States Census, 1920", database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJJZ-1MC  : 4 February 2021), David Shames, 1920.
  3. ^ a b Goldstein, Richard (2021-12-24). "Edward D. Shames, Last Living 'Band of Brothers' Officer, Dies at 99". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  4. ^ a b Airborne: The Combat Story of Ed Shames of Easy Company, Ch 1
  5. ^ "Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVRW-CZY4 : 16 August 2019), David Shames, 26 Jun 1927; from "Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2012); citing Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia, United States, entry #, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
  6. ^ Profiles in Valor: Colonel Ed Shames, Easy Company, retrieved 2021-12-05
  7. ^ "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VTM8-8DW  : 2 June 2020), Edward Shames in household of Sam Hoffman, Clay Ward, Richmond, Richmond City, Richmond City, Virginia, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 118-35, sheet 11B, line 48, family 214, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 4320.
  8. ^ "Virginia, Marriage Certificates, 1936-1988," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVBB-K44S : 20 February 2021), Edward David Shames and Ida Aframe, 27 Jan 1946; from "Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2012); citing Norfolk, Virginia, United States, certificate 661, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
  9. ^ "United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8PG-6T6 : 5 December 2014), Edward D Shames, enlisted 25 Sep 1942, Richmond, Virginia, United States; citing "Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, ca. 1938-1946," database, The National Archives: Access to Archival Databases (AAD) (http://aad.archives.gov : National Archives and Records Administration, 2002); NARA NAID 1263923, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.
  10. ^ p.54, Alexander
  11. ^ a b c "Shames". www.usairborne.be.
  12. ^ p.117, Winters
  13. ^ Location 895, Ooms
  14. ^ p.298, Alexander
  15. ^ "Edward D. Shames Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information".
  16. ^ "Edward David Shames obituary". Legacy.com.

External links[edit]