To the best of my memory, one of the two old vets seated at a table inside the big hangar at Executive Aviation at Flying Could Regional Airport looked down at the book he was about to autograph and said “Oh, the old edition,” surprised to see a copy that did not feature a group of actors in WWII uniforms and gear standing below the books title, which prompted me to reply back: “Yeah. I got mine before the miniseries came out.”
What miniseries, you ask? Why, “Band of Brothers”, of course; perhaps the most famous World War Two-related book and miniseries ever.
The event in question I was at was Air Expo 2006, the vets men who had served tours of duty in Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne division.
Penned by the late Stephen Ambrose, Brothers follows the tale of Easy company from its stateside training (and woes under the super-strict Lieutenant- then captain- Herbert Sobel) to England in preparation for D-Day, a time which saw Sobel displaced in favor of Lieutenant Tom Meehan … who lost his life when his plane was shot down, leaving popular Lieutenant Richard Winters in command.
Post-Normandy, now-Captain Winters led Easy Company throughout the ill-fated Operation Market Garden to the stalemate in Holland that followed, where a succession of commanders followed after Winters was promoted up to battalion but kept an extra-special eye on Easy company. An eye which noted that when Easy was being badly lead by its latest CO, “Foxhole” Norman Dike, during the battle of Foy, Belgium during the counteroffensive after the battle of the Bulge was won by, compelled Winters replace the hapless lieutenant right there on the battlefield with the one, the only Ronald Speirs. A man so brave that, while leading Easy during the assault on Foy, he ran through the German lines to make contact with a neighboring company … and then ran back through the Germans to his new command!
Speirs was destined to lead Easy from Foy all the way to the end of the war, which saw them assist in the capture of the town of Berchestgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, home of Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” retreat. Which saw Winters friend Captain Lewis Nixon discover paradise on earth on V-E day when he got the pick of Adolf Hitler’s wine cellar!
Along the way we meet many interesting soldiers such as opinionated aspiring writer-turned paratrooper for the duration David Webster, sergeant turned officer C. Carwood Lipton, the inventive Forrest Guth (who did not make the miniseries, alas), Don Malarkey (whose life was anything but what his last name said!), and many more, such as Lynn “Buck” Compton, a platoon leader who did not cram his officer’s rank down his boys throats but, instead, did not mind playing cards with them and being real friendly, no matter that it landed him in hot water with his superiors.
In closing, the book is so good, I think you will rush to see the miniseries soon after turning the last page!
(Incidentally, that’s my copy of the book pictured here. Ah how I must have read it a million times … and counting.)