HBO’s war series ‘Band of Brothers’ revolves around the soldiers of the Easy Company, which is a part of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which specializes in air assault operations. In reality, Easy Company was formed by some of the bravest American soldiers who fought in the Second World War and put their lives on the line in harsh conditions trying to win battles and operations such as the Battle of the Bulge. The paratroopers of the Company served in England, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Austria before the War’s conclusion. Naturally, the viewers must want to know more about the Easy Company that stood out among other military companies. Well, here’s what we can share about the same!
What is 101st Airborne’s Easy Company?
In the wake of the beginning of the Second World War, the 506th Infantry Regiment was created under the 101st Airborne Division, which focuses on air assaults. The Easy Company is one of the companies that originally formed the Regiment. “Easy” was originally formed by a group of paratroopers who jumped from C-47 transport airplanes to hostile territories during the Second World War. It was established in Camp Toccoa, Georgia, under the command of Herbert Sobel. The late lieutenant trained the paratroopers severely to turn the company into an elite one. One of the drills included running to the top of Currahee Mountain and returning to the base.
The original Easy Company was formed by 140 paratroopers and seven officers. “They were special in their values. They put a premium on physical well-being, hierarchical authority, and being part of an elite unit. They were idealists, eager to merge themselves into a group fighting for a cause, actively seeking an outfit with which they could identify, join, be a part of, relate to as a family,” Stephen E. Ambrose wrote about the men who formed the Easy Company in ‘Band of Brothers,’ the source text of the series. Easy became an elite unit because the paratroopers who joined the same were seeking a “positive, a learning and maturing and challenging experience,” as per Ambrose.
The paratroopers who were a part of Easy were also seeking something more than an unparalleled experience. “[…] they [the paratroopers of Easy] knew they were going into combat, and they did not want to go in with poorly trained, poorly conditioned, poorly motivated draftees on either side of them. As to choosing between being a paratrooper spearheading the offensive and an ordinary infantryman who could not trust the guy next to him, they decided the greater risk was with the infantry. When the shooting started, they wanted to look up to the guy beside them, not down,” Ambrose explained in his book.
One of the pivotal commanders of Easy was Major Richard Winters, who was originally a subordinate of Sobel. Winters was the 1st Platoon Leader during D-Day when Easy was assigned to capture the entrances of a pre-selected route off Utah Beach during the Battle of Normandy. After the disappearance of Lt. Thomas Meehan, Winters became the commanding officer. After his promotion, he was replaced by Norman Dike Jr, who was eventually replaced by Ronald Speirs. After D-Day, Easy tried to capture Carentan, failed to complete Operation Market Garden in Eindhoven, took part in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, and performed occupational duties in Germany and Austria.
Does 101st Airborne’s Easy Company Still Exist?
After the conclusion of the Second World War, Easy Company was disbanded in November 1945. However, the company got reinstated in 1954 as a training unit. Easy’s lineage and history are carried on as Alpha “Easy” Company, which is a part of the Second Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment. The Regiment is included in the Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. It is based in Fort Campbell, located near the Kentucky–Tennessee border between Hopkinsville in Kentucky and Clarksville in Tennessee.
In September 2005, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 506th Infantry Regiment reunited under the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. The last group of soldiers of the same served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and returned home in 2014. “This is the final flight of the Band of Brothers, and the final rendezvous with destiny as we furl the colors,” said Lt. Col. Scott W. Kirkpatrick, commander of 2nd Battalion of 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division, about the same. The Combat Team was then inactivated in April 2014.
Read More: Where Was Band of Brothers Filmed?