The only surviving member of the fictional Easy Company from Steven Spielberg’s “Band of Brothers” miniseries on HBO and the novel died on July 3.
Bradford Freeman of the 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, D-Day and the liberation of Nazi Germany’s death camps, has died aged 97. .
In the bloodiest conflict in human history, the division known as the Screaming Eagles fought their way through France, Holland and Belgium before reaching Austria.
In a way, the disappearance of Mr. Freeman means the end of a chapter. He belonged to a group of guys whose history many of us know and appreciate, according to the History Underground documentary maker, who broke the news of his departure.
Freeman, a native of Caledonia, Mississippi, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and offered to serve as a paratrooper. He was quickly assigned to Company E as a mortarman (Easy Company).
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Freeman jumped into Normandy, France with Easy Company while carrying an 18-pound mortar baseplate strapped to his chest.
His contribution to the liberation of France later earned him the French Legion of Decoration, the country’s highest military honour.
Freeman took part in Operation Market Garden, then helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge while remaining with his company the entire time.
He was injured on January 14 during the attack on Noville when a German rocket exploded near him, causing shrapnel to burrow into his knee.
Freeman saw his last battle and it took him three months to recover from his injury.
Freeman, however, later returned to his team and took part in the occupation of Austria and Berchtesgaden.
After the war, Freeman returned to Caledonia to marry his childhood sweetheart and start a family. He raised two kids, used the GI Bill to get to college, and then spent 30 years working for the Postal Service.
After the war, the retired soldier maintained a close friendship with Damien Lewis’s portrayal of Major Richard “Dick” Winters.
He had a significant impact on the creation of HBO’s Band of Brothers series in 2001, which was adapted from Dr. Stephen Ambrose’s book of the same name.
The last surviving soldier of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Freeman died the day before the United States Independence Day celebration.
History Underground paid tribute to the former soldier, saying, “Easy Company was just one company of men among the thousands who served in the war, but they represented their fellow veterans well.”
“The story of Easy Company has provided each of us with a window through which to look to better appreciate the marvelous accomplishments that have been made to overthrow injustice and tyranny. When their names were called, these ordinary individuals achieved incredible feats.
It’s hard not to feel melancholy when the men and women of his generation pass from this world to the next.
They represent something that sometimes seems to have been forgotten in our country.
However, they leave behind a legacy and a set of guidelines that we must follow.
And as they move toward their eternal rest, it is our duty to preserve their memory and continue to pass on the life lessons they taught.