June 18, 1914|
|Died||January 1990 (aged 75)
Niagara, New York
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1933–1945|
|Unit||Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
Private Roy W. Cobb (18 June 1914 – January 1990) was a soldier who served with the 1st Armored Division years before enlisting in the paratroopers with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. During his military service, his rank never advanced beyond Private. Cobb was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Craig Heaney.
Cobb had served in the army for nine years prior to enlisting in the Parachute Infantry. During that time, he took part in an assault landing in Africa with the 1st Armored Division. He survived a torpedo attack that sank the troop ship he was on when travelling back to the States.
During the drop into Normandy on 6 June 1944, Cobb was wounded inside the C-47 plane and unable to jump. Cobb and George Luz had exchanged seats because Luz wanted to jump earlier in the stick. Luz was afraid of being hit in the plane and not being able to jump. After recovering in England, Cobb rejoined his unit after they were relieved from combat operations in France; he took part in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, and fought at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. In January/February 1945, he was selected for a patrol at Haguenau under Lt. Jack Foley.
When the patrol commenced, Cobb's raft capsized, sending him and his cohorts into the icy water of the Moder River. They were then ordered to remain behind by an officer. The patrol returned with two prisoners, while one severely wounded German was left on the riverbank. David Kenyon Webster feared the wounded German, if recovered, would give away the outpost's position and threaten their safety; therefore he offered to silence the wounded soldier. Webster and another paratrooper each threw 2 grenades, none of which killed the German. Cobb later made one attempt with a grenade of his own, killing the wounded soldier.
Within hours of the incident, Cobb was arrested and nearly executed on-the-spot for assaulting his platoon commander, Lt. Foley in Haguenau, after consuming a bottle of schnapps. While submitting the court-martial papers, Robert Sink told Foley, "...you could have saved us all a lot of trouble. You should have shot him." In spite of the severity of the incident, Cobb remained with his unit and went on to complete his service in the unit until V-E Day. Eventually, he was discharged and returned to the Tonawanda, New York area.
Cobb died in January 1990 at Niagara, New York.
Band of Brothers
He was portrayed in Band of Brothers by Craig Heaney as a very unfriendly, bitter and, at some moments, a cowardly person. This is thought to be because he served so long in the Army but was never promoted. However, he is described in Stephen E. Ambrose's book Band of Brothers as "invariably good-natured".
One controversial incident during the episode "The Last Patrol" is when Cobb is depicted getting drunk after the patrol and is mildly scolded by Second Lieutenant Jones and Staff Sergeant John Martin; in reality, Cobb was being yelled at by Jack Foley, who led the patrol, and Cobb charged at Foley. Two men had to restrain Cobb and John Martin pulled out his pistol and pointed it at him. The actual incident was not portrayed in the series, yet several other events depicting him as bitter were shown throughout the series but never mentioned in the book.
According to Clancy Lyall, Cobb was given to him to care of as he knew Cobb best. "Roy was an okay guy. He was a good soldier when he wasn't drinking, but if there was a bottle in the middle of the German HQ, he would go out and get it! That was his problem. As a combat guy, he was quite good, no question about that", Lyall stated in his biography Silver Eagle. He also said Cobb never moaned about not being promoted and he doesn't know where they got the idea from that, that he was frustrated because of it.
Medals and decorations
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- Parachutist Badge
- Purple Heart
- Presidential Unit Citation
- American Defense Service Medal
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.